Thursday, 31 January 2013

Chocolate Bourbon Espresso Cake

Chocolate....Alcohol....Coffee....

In a cake. Altogether. At once. Yes, its heaven. And, yes - you must give this a go!

I found the recipe in the beautiful Tea with Bea cookbook (Bea's of Bloomsbury ) who make the prettiest and most indulgent cakes ever, as far as I'm concerned.

I've been needing a reason to bake this recipe (its not an everyday bake sort of cake, as the ingredients can be costly) and last weekend gave me the perfect excuse - my lovely Father-in-Law's birthday. He's a man who enjoys good coffee, good whiskey and is partial to a bit of cake 'n' choccie, so I thought it would be the perfect gift for his special day.

I found the cake a really enjoyable make, and impressive in the final look and taste (I of course HAD to try some, after he'd blown out the candles you understand!)

The final cake is rich, almost fudgey in texture, and has the warmth of whiskey without the burn, the coffee absolutely brings out the deepness of the dark chocolate, and the espresso buttercream with added bourbon is the perfect balance of ultra-sweet and ultra-rich - cake indulgence at its best.




This is the book you need to buy - full of amazing recipes for cakes, bakes and more. 


The Recipe from Tea with Bea

Ingredients - the cake mix

225g unsalted butter
4 shots good espresso
110g natural cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)
200g caster sugar
220g dark brown soft sugar
2 eggs
75ml Bourbon
1 tsp vanilla extract
280g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

20cm/8 inch round baking tin, greased and lined.

Method - the cake

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees / Gas 5
2. Put butter into a large saucepan and melt, then stir in the espresso and cocoa powder.
3. Add both sugars and the eggs and mix throughly.
4. Add 3 tbsp's of the Bourbon and vanilla extract and set aside.
5. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and sift twice.
6. Slowly pour the espresso mix into the flour mixture, stir until well combined (NB: The mixture should be very liquidy).
7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 28-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean, bake for an additional 5-10 mins if necessary. (I had to bake mine for an additional 15 minutes until the skewer was clean, so try not to worry, it will bake!)

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for 10 mins - then pop it on a wire rack for around an hour, before slicing in half across and sandwiching together with buttercream.

For the Mocha buttercream:

350g unsalted butter, softened & cut into chunks
780g icing sugar
30-50ml/2-3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp espresso
3 tbsp cocoa powder
a small splash of whiskey (if you fancy some extra indulgence!)

Method:

1. Using a paddle or beater attachment on your electric mixture (if you have one) beat the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2. Stir in the milk, vanilla, espresso, and mix some more.
3. Add the sifted cocoa powder, and mix until fully combined.
4. Finally, give it a taste....decide on whether to add a little splash of booze (I did!).

Use a palette knife to spread just over half the mix between the two layers of cake. (You could cut the cake into three layers if you're brave enough!) Then, using a piping bag pipe rosettes of the buttercream around the top of the cake, and in the centre. Place whole coffee beans in the centre of each rosette for added glamour!

My cake vs. Bea's

 The thing I love most about cookbooks is comparing my own finished product with the image in the book itself...have I done the recipe justice? Does it look as good as the one in the book? Can I alter the presentation to suit my ability and visual preference? On this occasion I'm proud to say I was pleased with my outcome, so was my Father-in-Law, and other tasters, so that's the main thing. 

Bea's of Bloomsbury's Chocolate Bourbon Espresso Cake....



My Chocolate Bourbon Espresso Cake...



Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. 

That is all. 

Lucy 

xxx

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Lucy's Luscious Lemon Curd (too much?)

Haha - excuse the title - a WI friend Ellie suggested I should go into business selling my homemade lemon curd, and this was her idea for a name - love it!

I've had some requests to share the recipe I use for lemon curd and don't want to disappoint, so as promised, here we go.

You Will Need:

2 level tbsp cornflour
100g golden caster sugar
finely grated zest 2 large lemons
125ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
juice of one small orange
85g butter, diced
3 egg yolks and one whole egg

Method

1. Mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Strain the lemon    juice through a sieve and add to the sugary mix slowly - stirring all the time.
2. Make the orange juice up to 200ml with water and strain into the pan.
3. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened and is smooth.
4. Once the mixture begins to bubble, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted.
5. Beat the egg yolks and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat.
6. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon.

You can store the lemon curd in a sterilised jar in the fridge, and enjoy on toast (my favourite!) or use as a filling for a lemon meringue pie, or lemon pavlova!

I made a fresh batch yesterday - and yes, half the jar has gone already (oh dear!)


Yummy jar of lemon curd, ready for devouring! 


Homemade meringues - for last night's dessert...

Lucy's Luscious Lemon Pavlova


Homemade giant meringue, topped with homemade lemon curd and freshly whipped cream...don't mind if I do!

Today's glorious sunshine puts me in the mood for something bright and lemony....back to the jar I go! 

Happy baking everyone, and do let me know if you try this recipe yourself! 

Lucy

xxx


Friday, 25 January 2013

Random Acts of New Year Kindness...xxx

My husband and I have had quite a tough, emotional week this week, and although we're coming out the other side feeling very lucky and happy, we're also pretty drained, and looking forward to a weekend together to re-charge.

I often find that its at our toughest and most trying times that we can be surprised by the kindness of the human spirit. This week has been hard, but today I have been surprised by three of my wonderful friends, and they have reminded me how fortunate I am to have such immense support around me.

Earlier today in the post I received an exciting package from my gorgeous friend Carmi. I don't know if its just me, but as an adult I get so excited to receive 'fun post' - its so much better than a bill or a circular! Inside the package was a gorgeous card & a great big tube of scrummy Cath Kidston Honeysuckle hand cream. I think its even more special when you receive little surprises in the post 'just because' rather than as expected on your birthday etc. How kind....and just so lovely to read such lovely words from such an amazing friend.

Hand cream from Carmi xx

Gorgeous card... "May there always be an angel on your side"


I also received some cute hand made cards from my friend Susie's children - thank you cards for their Christmas gifts. There is something so magical about seeing the writing and pictures of a small child - so beautiful and innocent and 'creative' in their own little ways!

Beautiful handmade cards from lovely Neve & Eliot xx


And if my day hadn't been brightened enough by friendship, this evening I have yet again been lucky enough to receive a wonderful random act of kindness from my gorgeous friend Liz from over at Little Red Welly blog (please go and check it out, she's a very inspirational lady!)

Liz and I have been friends for just over a year, and met through Scone Roses WI, of which she is the founder. Since meeting our friendship has gotten stronger & stronger - we have an awful lot in common, and we work very well and creatively together. We've now teamed up to run the WI group and its tons of fun. It's so cool to be part of, and jointly run such a fun, young and friendly group - and a huge bonus is getting to indulge in all the things we love - craft, baking, cooking, cake, chatter, tea, general creative awesome-ness etc!

You might remember me blogging here about Random Acts of Kindness - Liz introduced me to this idea and its a truly beautiful one.

At about 7:30pm tonight I was texted by the lovely Liz to say "there's a surprise for you on your doorstep!" :-) We scrambled out to find a beautiful box of delicious homemade cupcakes, a gorgeous book called "The Wonderful Weekend Book: Reclaim Life's Simple Pleasures" and a lovely little notelet wishing us a 'Wonderful Weekend' .... How lovely! It will certainly be the making of a lovely weekend.

 Scrummy cupcakes!!

 In a gorgeous box! :-)

The Wonderful Weekend Book xxx

Card from Liz : "I wish you all the joy that you can wish" William Shakespeare


The book looks really interesting and is bound to pop up in a future post once I've read it, so watch this space.

Has anyone else received some random acts of kindness this week?
I'd love to hear about it!

Lucy xxx

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Condensed Milk Cookies... xxx

I've finally got my baking mojo back...! I always get a bit of 'down' period when it comes to baking after Christmas. Too much of a good thing and all that! But this week I saw a recipe on a baking blog I regularly have a read of, and I couldn't resist this simple recipe.

CONDENSED MILK COOKIES

This recipe couldn't be more simple - the basic cookie dough comprises of butter, condensed milk and self raising flour. You can bake them plain, or add delicious flavours (I added choc chips...of course!) and they only take 12 mins for small cookies and 15-20 for bigger ones.

Find the recipe here at the lovely Raspberri Cupcakes blog, based in Sydney.

I will definitely bake this recipe regularly - it so quick and easy, and produces the scrummiest cookies with that decadent taste only condensed milk can supply! I will no doubt be experimenting with lots more flavour options and combos - so watch this space.

Anyone else baked anything scrummy this week? Would love to hear what you've been up to on the baking front.

Big love

Lucy xxx

My cookies - I made a variety of sizes (so as to test the baking times in the recipe - which were spot on!) and played with forking the tops of some to decorate. What's best....patterned or plain? 

xxx

Friday, 4 January 2013

Blogging Secret Santa

This Christmas I took part in an awesome bloggers secret santa - where lots of bloggers did a secret gift swap. Arranged by the lovely Vicky Higham at www.alifeofgeekery.blogspot.co.uk this was such a cool idea, and so I jumped at the chance to take part.

In late nov I was emailed by Vicki with which blogger I was to buy for. I was given the lovely Hannah from www.femgeek.co.uk  - the idea was that we were to read their blog and find out as much as possible about them - then find a gift to the value of £15 that we think they would like, wrap it, and send it off! It was so fun to find out stuff about Hannah - how she loves to drink tea, and has a passion for vintage (much like moi!) and was really awesome to discover a cool new blog!

After a lot of searching online (all my xmas shopping was either done online, or handmade, as I cant do a lot of walking with my stupid slipped disc) I found a lovely cup and saucer set, and an awesome ration book tea towel from www.giftedpenguin.co.uk  .... I really hope Hannah liked the gifts!



My lovely gift arrived and on xmas day I was so excited to open it! 
I received the most beautiful Emma Bridgewater mince pie plate - its absolutely stunning and so 'me'. I will definitely be getting this out every xmas. I love Emma Bridgewater's designs, and it was so lovely to be gifted something so beautiful and well thought out. 

My stunning Emma Bridgewater Mince Pie plate :-) 


My thanks go to my great 'secret santa' the lovely Rachael Weaver from www.thefashionfruitcake.blogspot.co.uk. It was fun to go straight to Rachael's blog and find out a bit about her - all in all a great way to discover new blogs, and to send and receive some lovely gifts for xmas. 

I hope you all had a lovely lovely xmas
and wishing all my awesome readers a very HAPPY NEW YEAR
Here's hoping 2013 will be an AMAZING year

Lucy 

xxxxx