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Recipes

Nutoff (Nutella and Biscoff) Cupcakes

(Biscella sounds better, but someone’s already done that so I don’t think I’m allowed to use it…)

They weren’t supposed to look like this…

I have a bit of a history with cakes.

They always taste good (save for the banana bread without the banana disaster), but when it comes to the decoration, they’re always a mess.

The last time I made cupcakes was for my friend’s daughter’s first birthday in October 2019, when we were allowed to be in the same room together. I just did a vanilla sponge with some Swizzles Drumstick pink and white icing (Drumsticks are retro sweets in the UK, nothing to do with chickens). They came out ok, but I put both colours of icing in the same piping bag so in the end it did combine a bit, so now I have a bit more time on my hands I thought I’d practice the piping.

I’ve been banging on for years about Biscoff and kept telling myself I was gonna make Biscoff cupcakes, I have now finally got round to it.

I have seen recipes and eaten cupcakes which have Biscoff in the actual cake mix, but it’s a bit much as the Biscoff is so sweet, so I decided to just do a basic vanilla sponge (can’t go wrong with that) with Biscoff and Nutella swirled icing.

Here’s the recipe and how it went:

For the sponge:

  • 150g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 150g Self-Raising Flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2tsp Baking Powder

For the Biscoff icing:

  • 87.5g Unsalted Butter (yes, I know it’s a weird amount but we’re making half and half!)
  • 175g Icing Sugar
  • 100g Biscoff Spread, the smooth one
  • 1tbsp Milk

For the Nutella icing:

  • 87.5g Unsalted Butter
  • 175g Icing Sugar
  • 100g Nutella
  • 1tbsp Milk

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, (160°C fan, gas mark 4). Put the cupcake cases in the cupcake tray.
  • Cream together the butter and the icing sugar until its soft and fluffy – mine looked like yellow clouds, and honestly, I could have just eaten that and I’d have been happy. I love the smell of it!
  • Gradually add in the eggs, vanilla extract, flour and baking powder and beat until fully combined. I did all this by hand, we don’t have whisk (madness), and my mixture was a little lumpy still, so don’t worry if yours is too.
  • Put the mix into the cases but only so they’re about ¾ full, you need to give them room to rise. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. I had mine in for 23, and they came out perfectly golden, but obviously ovens vary so just keep an eye on them and make sure you do the knife test to check they’re cooked. If it comes out clean, they’re done!
  • In two separate bowls, add the ingredients for the icing. I’d recommend sifting your icing sugar (especially if mixing by hand like me!). If you do have access to an electric mixer I would definitely recommend using it for the icing – that Biscoff is tough stuff and it took me bloody ages to get it combined!
  • Once combined you need to fill two piping bags (without the nozzle) with the mixture, then put those inside another piping bag (with nozzle). Obvs make sure you snip the ends off before putting them in the main bag. Now you need to pipe it onto the cakes (once they’re cold). The picture below shows the kind of effect you’re hoping for (it has three colours though because I couldn’t find a good enough free photo showing two, but you get the idea):

The picture below shows what I ended up with:

Oh..shit…
Even the addition of the biscuit can’t save it!

Having had time to reflect, I think I went wrong in the following areas:

  • I managed to make my Biscoff icing too runny. I would recommend adding the milk in after you’ve given the rest of the ingredients a good whisk.
  • I tried to fit two piping bags inside another piping bag of the same size. I would suggest using two smaller ones, or perhaps rolling the icing in cling film, which I think I might try next time.
  • I cannot pipe for shit (no pun intended).

I got a bit bored of piping turds onto these cakes, so, as my Nutella icing was the perfect consistency, I sacked off the two-tone thing and added some of the Biscoff icing to the Nutella icing and just piped that instead. It then turned a little runnier than I would have liked, but I think you’ll agree, looks better than the former.

Photo courtesy of my mate @doughjobs, who also one of my taste testers

Still looks like a turd, just a slightly prettier one.

As for the taste – I have so far had three reviews, all of which have said that they are very tasty. I tend to agree.

And honestly, that’s all that really matters to me!

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Recipes

Jaffa Cake Cheesecake

I feel like I need to start with a disclaimer, which is – it could just be me. It is very possibly, probably likely, that it is just me…

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I’d been following Jane’s Pattisserie for about a week, a friend of mine liked the recent posting of the Jaffa Cake Cheesecake and for some reason, I thought I could do it. How hard is it to make cheesecake, man, you don’t even need to cook it?!

Headed out and managed to get all the gear for it and decided this would be the perfect way to spend my VE day bank holiday, seeing as there’s bugger all else to do with all these bank holidays we ain’t gonna be getting back.

I actually start the night before by making the jelly, I’ve found a dish which fits perfectly into the cake tin and gives enough room around it for it to be buried in the cream. Perf.

Step two, the following morning, is to bash the fuck out of the digestives and once they resemble wet sand, combine it with the melted butter. Can I just stop here and eat this instead? It smells so good! Add it to the tin and smooth it down so its packed in tightly and level.

Then for the cream cheese bit. Straightforward enough, mix the cheese with the cream, orange extract, sugar and I added some chocolate shavings as I had extra and thought it would make it a bit more chocolatey – and I seem to be of just following a recipe without adding or removing something. Add most of it to the tin, making sure there’s enough left to cover the jelly, which is going in next. That goes in perfectly, and I then cover it with the rest of the cream and put it back in the fridge to set for a good 6 hours.

So far, so fucking good.

But then comes the ganache.

It seems easy enough, but I am worried about burning the cream. I am also conscious of the fact that I’m using an induction hob and any liquid seems to bubble up before it’s actually at temperature, so it’s quite the deceitful beast. I followed the instructions, poured the cream which I thought was just off the boil, into a bowl and added the broken chocolate and left it to melt. Then after 5 mins I stirred it, and this is when I realized that the cream wasn’t hot enough because the chocolate wasn’t melting and it wasn’t as smooth as I was expecting it to be. But I continue.

As soon as I started adding the chocolate to the cheesecake I realized there isn’t enough of it.

Not ideal…

I make more to cover the edges, but the second batch is a completely different consistency and colour. It is only filling the edges though, and that’s where the Jaffa Cakes are going to go so maybe it’s not so bad?

Ok. Not so bad. Looks quite good I think! Let’s put it back in the fridge until she’s ready to be opened up after dinner.

…oh
Shit.
Noooooo!
Oh bollocks

Well hopefully it tastes good?

Luckily, it tasted pretty delicious!

It obviously continued to just fall apart, the cream just doesn’t stick to the jelly, and the fact that my jelly was made in a bowl, and therefore domed, didn’t help. I think if I did this again, I’d use less jelly, and make a well in the cream and insert the jelly dome side down, instead of just plonking it on the top.

I also realized as well that my cake tin was 23cm, and not the recommended 20cm as per the recipe. Which explains why there wasn’t enough ganache to cover it. I should also have realized that the way I arranged the Jaffa Cakes on the top wasn’t going to work without some kind of glue to stick them together. I chose to decorate it differently, perhaps if I just stuck to a recipe for once, it wouldn’t go wrong!

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Recipes

Banana CAKE…second take

My bananas, which have been sitting in a brown paper bag for what feels like an eternity, are finally ripe enough, and I am ready to give the banana CAKE another go.

I decided to find another recipe, and as soon as I started typing the word ‘banana’ on Safari on my phone, a recipe that I had already bookmarked popped up. Ideal. It’s this recipe, and it’s in English so none of their weird cups and Fahrenheit’s to convert so I already feel better about it.

I didn’t quite let the butter get to room temperature before I started creaming (by hand) with the sugar. It looked like dough, and not the creamy, fluffy texture as described, so I thought I’d fucked it up straight away. Luckily as I started mixing the eggs in it loosened up, and my faith was restored.

Enter the flour, however, and it all started to get a bit sticky again, but then you add the mashed bananas and it turns into this lumpy batter which smells amazing.

I used a bar of  Lindt Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt, smashed up and about 70 grams of chopped roasted hazelnuts, shoved it in a loaf tin lined with baking paper, and put it in the oven and hoped for the best.

The smell when it was cooking as so much nicer than the one I tried previously. That was salty. This one was sweet.

And look at her. What a beauty. All golden and goddess-like, just waiting to be opened up and devoured (after cooling, of course).

‘Redemption!’, he shouts! ‘You have redeemed yourself!’ as he goes in for his second chunk.

She’s so moist, so soft, so sweet. And warm enough still that the chocolate chunks are all gooey and melty.

I’m so happy. I imagine this is what it’s like when you become a mother for the first time. Bursting with pride at your perfect creation – but hopefully with less desire to eat your child.

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Recipes

Kristina’s Baking Disasters #1726494

Banana bread (without the banana…)

Before I begin, can we have a word about the use of the word ‘bread’ here? Should we be calling this bread? The Oxford Dictionary definition of bread is:

  1. food made of flour, water, and yeast mixed together and baked.

 There ain’t no yeast in banana bread huns! It’s a bloody cake! Thank you.

I had planned to jump on the banana CAKE bandwagon this weekend, but my bananas aren’t ripe enough yet, despite the fact I’ve had them in a paper bag all week. I had my heart set on cake, so I decided I’d just make the banana CAKE without the banana…

I found this banana bread recipe via thekitchn.com, and decided I’d adapt it slightly, and add both walnuts and grated chocolate (grated instead of chips as I don’t know how to stop chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom…). I’ve made chocolate and walnut cakes like this in the past and they came out fine. Here’s how this one went…

Shit. Look at the state of it. Anyone with half a brain could have predicted it wasn’t going to work but my brain doesn’t work the same as other people’s! ‘What’s the worst that can happen?!’ is a mantra I seem to live by but rarely learn from!

I forgot to put in the bicarbonate of soda but realized this before I put the tin in the oven, so I managed to quickly swirl it in. At this point my main concern was that it wouldn’t raise, so I was delighted when I returned from my daily government-approved outside exercise to find that had risen.

It looked a bit burnt, but as I’d put chocolate shavings into the mixture I had hoped that it was just melted chocolate that made it look like that. I had also hoped that it would be moist because of the chopped walnuts.

After letting it cool in the tin for about ten minutes and again on a rack out of the tin for about the same amount of time, I cut a slice and gave it a try.

It was moist. It was a bit dense though, possibly slightly underbaked. It was also bland. I let him have a try, and we agreed it needed jazzing up a bit, so I melted the remainder of the Lindt Dark with Sea Salt with some butter and attempted to drizzle it over the top, sprinkled some nuts on the top and hoped for the best…

Here’s a short list of some of the comments I received after he tried it:

  • It tastes like a loaf of Hovis with a bit of chocolate on top
  • Shall I go to the shop and get a dessert?
  • Shop bought desserts from now on (this one came after I said that I should have just made that Jaffa Cake cheesecake instead)
  • I’ll take over the cooking from here. You never get a bad meal out of me!

I don’t think he liked it.

And I honestly cannot blame him. It was just so shit.

I will try again, following the recipe in full, and let you know how I get on second time around!

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Recipes

Aubergine Curry

Reached a point in life now where the aubergine emoji is being used for it’s intended purpose. Sad face.

I saw a Netflix documentary recently, Explained: The Future of Meat. Have you seen it? They’re developing all this artificial meat to offer as an alternative because they’re struggling to keep up with demand. I don’t wanna eat that shit. I don’t want my kids to eat that shit either, so, if by some miracle, me cutting out meat from a few meals a week helps (obvs won’t, but it’s nice to feel like you’re doing something, right?), then that’s what I’ll do.

I’m not a huge lover of veg. I think mainly because all I was offered as a kid was boiled-to-fuck runner beans and broccoli. Oh god, and I’ve just remembered that my mum once bought us these chocolate flavoured carrots that she purchased from one of the freezer supermarkets, that you boiled in the bag, in a desperate attempt to get us to eat some vegetables. Safe to say, it didn’t work. It wasn’t really until I started cooking for myself that I realised, vegetables aren’t terrible, it just depends what you do with them.

Last week, I found a member recipe on BBC Good Food for an aubergine and lentil curry (thanks chloedavidson375), which was delicious. However, I’m trying to do my bit for the planet here, and so I think it’s best that I ‘Let London Breathe’, as the TfL adverts suggest, and avoid lentils altogether. I’m sure everyone on the eastbound Central line at rush hour will be grateful.

This week I’ve adapted it and replaced the lentils with my favourite root vegetable, the beautiful butternut squash. Scroll down for the recipe!

Ingredients

1 large aubergine, cut into bitesize pieces

About 300g butternut squash, cut into bitesize pieces

2 x 400g chopped tomatoes

Curry paste – I went with the classic tikka masala

Mango chutney

Cashews – I just chucked the whole 170g bag in

Olive oil, or whatever your preferred cooking oil is

Fresh coriander

0% fat greek yoghurt

Servings – I’m greedy, but I reckon you can get four out of this.

Method

1. Heat some oil in the pan and cook the aubergine until it’s golden and slightly soft. Then remove from the pan and put to one side.

2. Heat some more oil in the pan and cook the squash until it’s golden and slightly soft.

3. Add the curry paste to the pan and stir, then remove from the heat and add the chopped tomatoes.

4. Add the aubergine back to the pan, along with a couple of tablespoons of mango chutney.

5. Chuck in the cashews, as many as you like. I love nuts in a curry so I just shoved the whole bag in. Bring to the boil for a bit, then simmer for 20-30 mins, stirring occasionally.

6. Serve with wholegrain basmati, a dollop of yoghurt (not pictured here, because I forgot to pick some up), and some fresh coriander.

Fucking delicious!

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Recipes

HOW TO MAKE MONDAY BETTER

Recipe from November 2019…

It’s Monday. It’s November. It’s cold. I’ve got a three-day hangover and I wish I wasn’t at work.

The only thing getting me through today is knowing that I get to eat this delicious soup I made yesterday for lunch. I’ve added the recipe below so that you can get a belly full of happiness too.

Recipe:

400g Butternut squash (I know it’s bad (because plastic) but I always buy the pre-chopped stuff)

2 Carrots

1 onion

Chicken stock (because I already had it in the cupboard)

4tbsp Crème Fraîche (or more/less depending on how creamy you want it)

Butter

Olive oil (or whatever you’d usually use to roast your veg)

Dried sage

Fresh sage

Chilli flakes

Salt & lots of pepper

Calories: Who cares, it’s winter

Servings: Depends how greedy you are. This gave me three servings

Time: You should be able to do this in under an hour. I wasn’t really paying attention to the time if I’m honest

1. Chop the squash and carrots into bite-size pieces, put them on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, season with salt, pepper and some dried sage. I put mine in the oven at 250 degrees, first for about 20 mins, then I checked it, turned the veg over and left it in for a few more minutes to make sure the veg was soft enough to get a fork in with ease. Make up a jug of stock, I used about 500ml.

2. Chop the onion, add a bit of oil to a large pan and fry for a few minutes until soft (but not brown). You could of course roast your onion. This was my original intention, but I forgot.

3. Add the veg to the pan with the onions, add the stock and a dollop of butter, then remove from the heat. Let it cool a bit before blending.

4. In a small frying pan, add some butter (or oil if you’d prefer) and add the sage leaves making sure to keep them flat. Sprinkle with some salt and fry until they go crispy. This doesn’t take very long. Remove the leaves and lay them out on some kitchen roll to soak up some of the oil.

5. Get your blender out and blend the soup mix until it’s smooth (or whatever consistency you’d like).

6. Transfer the soup back to the pan, and on a medium heat, stir through 4 big dollops of crème fraîche until it’s all melted. Add some chilli flakes and a bit more salt and pepper.

7. Serve up your bowl of orange bliss, garnishing with a few of the crispy sage leaves and a couple of slices of your favourite bead. I had some lightly toasted, buttered sourdough. Fucking delicious!