Tuesday, 1 September 2015

AlphaBakes September 2015

Welccome to September's AlphaBakes. Can you believe it's the end of summer already? We've had a few tricky letters recently so you'll be pleased to know that this month is a much easier letter. If you haven't already seen the fabulous 'Z' roundup on Caroline's blog, do head on over to have a look. Without further ado, the letter we are using this month is ...

Look forward to seeing all your Jamming J entries! Entry is via the linky tool below and if for some reason it's not working then please email alphabakes@gmail.com by 25th September 2015.

Quick reminder of the rules....

1. Post your RECIPE on your blog and link it to The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, stating the relevant month's host. If you do not have a blog, email us a picture and a brief description of your entry which we will include in the round-up at the end of the month.

2. You can use your own RECIPE or someone else's RECIPE. The recipe can be sweet, savoury or a mixture! Anything goes as long as the random letter is predominantly featured in the recipe as one of the main ingredients or flavours or in the name of the bake itself (i .e . not as a garnish , or using 'flour' for the letter F!) You can also republish old posts/RECIPES but you must include the information for this challenge as stated in these rules.

3. Add the logo to your post and add 'alphabakes' as a label to your post.

4. Entry is via the linky tool below. Alternatively, you can email your entries to alphabakes@gmail.com by midnight (GMT) 25th of each month. Please include:

  • Your name (that you want included in the round up or we will use the name of your blog) 
  • Your blog post URL 
  • RECIPE title 
  • Photo of RECIPE (to be included in the round up) 
5. You can submit as many entries as you like.

6. You do not have to participate every month to join in.

7. You may submit your entry to other challenges as long as it complies with their rules.

8. If you use twitter, please use the tag #alphabakes and mention @bakingaddict and @Caroline_Makes. We will retweet all those that we see.

9. Have fun! :)

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Zucchini and Orange Marmalade Muffins with Cranberry and Pecans

It's another courgette recipe but it's too good not to share. I saw this on Brown Eyed Baker and the flavour combination really appealed to me. As with my previous post on biscotti, this has a distinctively festive flavour with the orange, pecan and cranberry.  The muffins were quick and easy to put together and made for a substantial breakfast. You can clearly taste the tangy marmalade which pairs well with the cranberry and pecan. You can actually see bits of green from the courgette in the muffin not that it put anyone off. I brought this to a work breakfast do and they were a real hit. Definitely on the bake again list. I also experimented with coconut sugar rather than caster sugar and to be honest I couldn't taste the difference. I was worried that it would have a coconut taste but it didn't so I will definitely be using more of my coconut sugar in the future. I like to think that this is healthier for me as it has courgettes, coconut sugar, dried fruit and nut! 

I'm sending this to a few blog challenges this month.

AlphaBakes hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and co hosted by myself on alternate months. The letter this month is Z for Zucchini also known as courgette. 

Extra Veg challenge hosted by Jen from Jen's Food this month. The challenge is run by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy. These muffins are a great way to incorporate extra veg into your diet.

Simple and in Season hosted by Ren as courgettes are currently in season. 

No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. I used up the end of a jar of marmalade, an open pack of dried cranberries and a pack of pecans which I bought for something else. There was also 1 courgette left in the fridge which was exactly what I needed. 

 adding (strained) finely grated courgette 

 adding dried cranberries and pecan nuts 

 place a pecan nut on top of each muffin before baking 

 I love how you can see the green flecks from the courgette 

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker 
Makes 12 muffins 

185g plain flour
125g coconut sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
80mls vegetable oil
100g orange marmalade (I used 125g as that was all that was left in the jar) 
50g pecans, roughly chopped
120g dried cranberries
1 courgette, finely grated and strained well

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ground cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and marmalade. Stir in the courgette. 
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix briefly.
  • Add in the dried cranberries and pecans and stir until just mixed.
  • Divide evenly between 12 muffin cases.
  • Place a whole pecan on top of each muffin before baking.
  • Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

Chocolate, orange, almond and cranberry biscotti

This sounds like a really festive bake but it's made in the middle of summer! It will definitely be a great gift at the end of the year when it's 'C' time... just can't bring myself to say it in August! This recipe is of course inspired by the current season of the Great British Bake Off. It was biscuit week in week 2 and they made biscotti. I've baked Italian biscotti once before and they weren't hugely successful so I was really pleased with how these turned out.  Clearly, I have to work on shaping these as my biscotti were huge! They passed the crunch test and tasted delicious. The flavours work really well together and it really tasted very festive with the chocolate, cranberry and orange. I'm definitely baking more biscotti in the future and might be more adventurous with flavour combinations. 

I'm sending this to Treat Petite hosted by Kat from the Baking Explorer and co hosted by Stuart from Cakeyboi. The theme this month is The Great British Bake Off.

 adding dried cranberries, chocolate chips and blanched almonds 

 Love how the orange zest turns the eggs very orange! 

 biscotti loaves 

 sliced after the first round of baking



375g plain flour
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
200g caster sugar
100g dark chocolate chips
75g blanched almonds (bring a pot of water to boil, add the almonds for 1 minute then strain. Remove the skins by squeezing the end of the almond)
100g dried cranberries
3 eggs
zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon orange flavoured water

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Mix flour, baking powder and sugar. 
  • Add in the chocolate chips, dried cranberries and blanched almonds and mix. 
  • In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the orange zest and orange flavoured water (or fresh orange juice).
  • Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix well. 
  • Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into two fat sausages. 
  • Place on a baking tray spaced apart, allowing room for spreading. 
  • Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. 
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 140C. 
  • Allow the biscotti to cool for 10 minutes then slice diagonally using a bread knife. 
  • Place the slices facing up on a baking tray and bake for a further 20 minutes or until crispy. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Chocolate Cake with Oreo and Cream Cheese Filling

Are you ready for a serious chocolate overload? This is cake is so good I've made it 3 times in the space of two weeks and will be baking it again later this week. It's a simple cake that looks impressive and everyone will think you've spent hours on this creation! I adapted a recipe I found online. It's a really nice, moist chocolate cake with a cookies and cream filling topped with chocolate ganache and more Oreos. I took this to my work and J took one to his work as well. Here are the comments received...

This is the best chocolate cake.... EVER!

‘Okay, so that cake seriously competes with the after eight mint cupcakes... It's AMAZING!’

‘OMG....that cake was amazeballs!! My compliments to the chef ;)’

I think I've died and gone to cake heaven!

You really have to try this cake for yourself especially if you like chocolate and Oreos. I used chocolate creme Oreos the first time round as the supermarket had sold out of normal Oreos (gasp!). I do think it looks better with the regular Oreos as you get a bit of colour contrast. As I said, I've made this a few times so I've varied the decoration a little. I quite like the one with the whole Oreo in the centre rather than crushed up Oreos. 

I'm sending this to We Should Cocoa hosted by Choclette from Tin and Thyme. The theme this month is anything goes so here's my chocolate overload entry. 

 use strips of parchment paper around the cake board to catch any spillages. 

 Place one cake bottom side up on the cake board 

 Add the Oreo and cream cheese filling 

 With chocolate Creme Oreos

 With regular Oreos

Makes 1 large cake

For the cake 
350g caster sugar
220g plain flour
85g cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
250mls milk
125mls vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (or use vanilla extract)
250mls boiling water, cooled for a few minutes

For the filling
400mls double cream
225g cream cheese
85g icing sugar
14 Oreo cookies, crushed

For the ganache
200mls double cream
200g dark chocolate 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Grease and line 2 x 18cm round tins. 
  • Place the sugar, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix briefly.
  • Add in the milk, oil, eggs, chocolate extract and finally the slightly cooled boiling water.
  • Mix until smooth.
  • Divide the batter between the 2 cake tins and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
  • To make the filling, whip the cream until stiff then set aside. 
  • Beat the cream cheese with the icing sugar until smooth.
  • Stir in the whipped cream and crushed oreos. 
  • Chill in the fridge if not using immediately.
  • To make the ganache, heat the cream gently until it's just starting to bubble - don't let it overboil.
  • Add in the chocolate in small pieces whilst stirring.
  • Whisk for a few minutes until it's smooth.
  • Allow to cool for 5-10minutes before using.
  • To assemble the cake, cut 4 strips of parchment paper and lay them on each side of the cake board (see picture above)
  • Place one cake upside down on the cake board. 
  • Spread the cream cheese filling evenly on the cake, smoothing out the edges as you go. 
  • Add the second cake on top.
  • Pour the ganache from a height on to the centre of the cake and allow it to spread out until it's dripping down the edges of the cake. 
  • Decorate with piped rosettes of cream and half an Oreo Cookie as shown. I also added more crumbles Oreos as you just can't have too many! 
  • Remove the parchment paper and you should have a clean cake board. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Brie, Courgette and Red Pepper Muffins

J took the bacon, blue cheese and polenta muffins to work and it went down well in his office. However, the vegetarians were disappointed as they didn't get a look in. I felt I had to bake a vegetarian muffin to compensate and as I still had a lot of cheese leftover from the cheese box I decided it had to be a cheesy one. I found this recipe on BBC Good Food and decided to give it a go. The recipe says to skin the peppers which I've never done before and it worked! It was a little messy so I might try using the grill next time. The website said to blacken the whole pepper on an open flame or under a grill. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film. The peppers will shrink at this point. When it's cool, the skin comes off easily with the help of a small knife. 

These muffins were really tasty. I loved the mix of courgette, peppers and cheese and even though I am a bacon addict, I have to say that these were better than the bacon ones! It was well worth the effort of preparing the peppers (which I was tempted to skip) and pre cooking the courgettes. 

I'm sending this to a few blog challenges this month. 

AlphaBakes hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and co hosted by myself on alternate months. The letter this month is Z for Zucchini also known as courgette. 

Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen. The theme this month is anything goes.

Extra Veg challenge hosted by Jen from Jen's Food this month. The challenge is run by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy. These muffins are a great way to incorporate extra veg into your diet.

Simple and in Season hosted by Ren as courgettes are currently in season. 

Love Cake hosted by Ness from Jibber Jabber UK as the theme this month is 'Pack me a Picnic' These muffins are perfect for picnics as they are easy to bake and easy to transport. 

 pre cooking the courgettes 

 multi tasking! 

 lovely buttery courgettes 

 blackened pepper - cover with cling film and when it's cool, scrape the skin off. If there's a little left, just rinse it under a tap and it comes off easily. 

 look at the colourful ingredients! You will spy that there is a little bit of red leicester cheese with the brie as I didn't have enough brie 

 generous sprinkling of applewood cheddar on top before baking 

Recipe from BBC Good Food

2 small or 1 large courgette, cut into small cubes
approximately 25g butter
250g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (or just oregano)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
100mls milk
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 red peppers, skinned and cubed
85g cheddar cheese, grated (I used applewood cheddar as that was what I had in the fridge)
100g brie, cubed

  • Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan and cook the courgettes for about 5 minutes until soft and lightly brown. Set aside.
  • Place 2 red peppers over an open flame or under the grill until the skin is charred. You will need to turn the pepper with heat resistant tongs.
  • Once the pepper is completely charred, place in a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
  • Use a small knife to scrape away the skin. You may need to rinse the pepper under a tap if the skin does not come off easily.
  • Cut the top of the pepper and remove the seeds and inner membrane.
  • Slice the pepper into large chunks.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, dried mixed herbs and salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Make a well in the centre and add in the eggs, oil and milk.
  • Give it a quick stir. 
  • Add the courgettes, red peppers, 2/3 of grated cheddar and brie. 
  • Stir until just mixed.
  • Divide the batter between 12 muffin cases.
  • Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top of each muffin and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.