Tag Archives: baking

Cakery Bakery: the only pumpkin chocolate chip cookie you will ever need

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Yesterday night we skipped off to watch Ender’s Game at the cinema (which I loved). And so, in the spirit of dramatic sci-fi narration, let me say this:

there are some recipes that will CHANGE YOUR LIIIIIIFE.

And this is one of them.

Thanks to a lovely friend being wonderfully generous with the contents of her store cupboard, I now have more cans of pumpkin than I know what to do with – or I would, if I didn’t like pie so much. When I found this recipe claiming to be the best pumpkin chocolate chip cookie ever, I was ready to break into my stash and take that sucker down. (Sorry, that’s the sci-fi voice coming out again. Down, Harrison, down.)

The ingredients are almost all cupboard staples, with the exception of molasses (I use Lyons’ black treacle, Britishers) and canola oil (I use rapeseed oil, Britishers, though I’m pretty sure ordinary vegetable oil would work just fine). The method is a throw-it-all-in-and-mix type, which always makes me happy. It was all done in a jiffy, even with Henry trying to stick his face in the treacle.

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Two notes about the mixing:

- put in the oil first, then use the same cup measure to put in the molasses. Black treacle is stickier than Satan’s armpit, but with a residual layer of oil in the bottom of the cup, it slides out into the bowl without a problem. And – this is very important -

- re. chocolate chips: go plain, or go home. And always, always put at least a third more in than you think you’ll need.

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The mixture is unpleasantly brown and clingy, but just wait till their ten minutes in the oven are up. These things puff out into glorious, golden mounds, cracked along the top like fault lines and studded with melted chocolate chips. If you don’t take care ladling out the dough, they can very easily be as large as your face. Crack one open and they are cakey and slightly chewy – like good gingerbread, almost, but without the ginger. Curiously, the pumpkin doesn’t come through very strongly, though they’re not at all tasteless. What they most remind me of are those German Christmas cookies: the same spices and the same texture. Magnificent, in other words. And the batch made thirty-five.

Store in a tin, and eat at your leisure. But even thirty-five of these babies won’t last long. I do not think there is a better cookie in the whole of space and time. And that’s not even Harrison Ford talking.

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The recipe for these cookies is courtesy of heynataliejean.com, and can be found here. Do it. DO IT NOW.

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Autumn love #3: the pie’s the thing

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One of the advantages of not frequenting Pinterest – apart from having no burning desire whatever to upcycle my plumbing – is that we’re almost done with October and I’m still hugely excited about pumpkin recipes. I scoped out Waitrose a couple of weeks ago for canned pumpkin (there were five tins and I only took three, which I thought was supreme self-control) and it’s been sitting in my cupboard and winking at me since then. Yesterday I finally got an afternoon where the toddler/baby/naptime stars aligned, so we opened the pumpkin cupboard and let those babies run free, FREE.

Pie first. Of course. I unimaginatively use the recipe on the back of the Libby’s can, and a pastry recipe courtesy of my sister-in-law (Fannie Farmer’s originally, I believe, and reproduced below) that is the veritable bomb.

I love every bit of this: stretching springy pastry dough over the pie dish, the mud-squelchy sound when the pumpkin tips out of the can into the bowl, mixing the spices, and – ahem – drinking the left-over condensed milk. From a glass. Don’t judge me.

There was a bit of leftover pastry, too, and Hen made himself a tiny jam roly-poly. Watching him wielding his miniature rolling pin and then scoffing his prize in front of Finding Nemo was the cutest thing ever. Teds would’ve been jealous, but he’s not the type.

The pie’s gone, by the way.

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Pastry recipe:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
3-7 tablespoons cold water 

Mix flour and salt, then add shortening and mix in using two knives, dragging in opposite directions. 

Add cold water until it starts coming together, then roll out on a floured board. 

(Makes enough for a 9-inch dish). 

See here for a step-by-step, from the first time I made it. Happy baking!

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Five cakes for five occasions

Five Cakes post

This week we have discovered that the more people you have in a house, the longer you can keep a cold virus going. We just keep throwing it between us like a frisbee of snotty sadness. I’m a lot better at catching colds than I am at catching frisbees (twice in a week, now! I am the virus winner!), which is oddly making me feel a little better.

Anyway, after I’ve run through painkillers and melodrama, dessert is my third stop during cold season. I had to choose three of my favourite desserts to bring to an activity last week, and I just hope you never have to make such a wrenching decision, dear readers. So much good cake. So much. [tears.]

So I thought I’d try to be useful, and suggest a few shortcuts. Here are five cakes perfect for five occasions – and it should go without saying that all of them will improve your average snotastrophe NO END.

the birthday party: white chocolate and brownie torte

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This is ideal birthday fare: it’s the easiest thing in the world and looks far more impressive than it should (good for crowds), but needs eight hours in the freezer, so can’t be made on a whim (hopefully your loved one’s birthday hasn’t come as a surprise). And with only three ingredients, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like it.

I inherited this recipe from my mother-in-law – if you recognise where it’s from, let me know so I can credit it!

Ingredients:

300g white chocolate

600ml/1 pint double cream

250g brownies (I use one of those boxes of mini brownies in the bakery section at Tesco)

cocoa powder

Method:

Line an 8-inch Springform tin with greaseproof paper.

Break the chocolate into pieces, and melt in a pan with 1/4 pint (150 ml) of the cream. Let it cool once it’s melted.

Crumble the brownies into pieces, and pack into the bottom of the tin (not too hard!).

Whip the remaining cream (3/4 pint, 450 ml) into soft peaks, then fold in the chocolate mixture.

Spoon into the tin, clingfilm and freeze for 8 hours (or overnight).

Transfer the torte to the fridge 45 minutes before serving. Dust with cocoa powder.

Read the full run-through here.

the valentine: Sophie Dahl’s flourless chocolate cake

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I may be just shallow, but nothing says true love to me like the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE YOU’VE EVER HAD. Trust me, I’ve tried a lot, and this is the one I keep coming back to. Without flour, the cake relies on whipped egg whites to rise, which makes it moist (I hate that word, but when it fits…) and puddingy. Creme fraiche and raspberries on top, while deeply offending Mr Jeffcoat, counterbalance the chocolate nicely, and prevent it from being too sickly.

The recipe is here, and you can read about the first time I tried it here. The only thing I’d add is that putting chocolate in a food processor always broke my food processor, and cutting it up finely was achey and time-consuming. Just melt the chocolate with the butter in the microwave, and follow the recipe from there.

Mmmm. Romance.

the church social: lemon bars

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I do this every time: sign up to bring a dessert to some activity or other, and then forget until the last minute. I owe my friend Kathryn for this revelation: soft shortbread underneath squidgy lemon-meringue-style topping that tastes like happiness. One tray can be sliced into as many pieces as you need, and you can dress it up in individual cupcake cases if need be. Timothy always requests these to bring into the office on his birthday, at which point one of his coworkers described them as ‘like a lemon snog to the face’. I cannot give any better recommendation than this.

Crust Ingredients:

1 cup butter (this translates to about 226g)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour (I use about 3/4 plain flour and 1/4 self-raising – did it this way by accident once and it worked well)

Filling ingredients:

4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups sugar, any kind
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup flour (self-raising, I use)
1/4 cup lemon juice
Rind of 1 lemon, grated

Method

For crust -
1) Cream butter and icing sugar.
2) Add salt and flour, and mix well.
3) Pat into a 9 x 13 inch lined baking tin. Bake at 170 C for 15-20 mins.

For filling -
1) Mix all ingredients and pour over hot crust. Bake at 170 C for about 25-30 mins. It should be light brown on top and a curd-like consistency.
2) When done, sprinkle with icing sugar. Cut into squares when cool.

Read the full run-through here.

the Sunday lunch: Nigella’s ice cream cake

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Och, this one is amazing. Ice cream mixed with biscuits, chocolate and honeycomb, frozen into place and then covered with hot chocolate and butterscotch sauce. Ideal for Sunday lunch because it’s dead easy, and you can fill it with whatever your family or guests like best: peanuts, chocolate chips, different types of biscuit, favourite chocolate bars – even fruit, if you must.

Nigella’s recipe is here, but it’s not an exact science: just a tub of ice cream, your favourite things, and a Springform tin. The recipes for hot chocolate sauce is here, and the butterscotch sauce is here. One would do, but using both makes it a thing of beauty.

Read the full run-through here.

the comfort eat: cinnamon roll cake

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I speak here as someone obsessed with cinnamon rolls, but without the patience (or breadmaker) to make them. I first made this on a rainy afternoon with friends, so heavily pregnant I looked like a giant cheeseburger, and I swear to you I nearly buried my face in it. It’s another tray bake (though you could put it in any shaped tin you like) which is somewhat dangerous: you start off virtuously with a small square, and before you know it, it’s half gone.

The recipe is from The Girl Who Ate Everything, and it’s here. I use a cream cheese frosting rather than her suggested icing, which is at the bottom of the page, here (I generally halve this recipe, because it’s insane). And while I’d recommend checking the cake after the recommended 25-30 minutes, it actually takes just over an hour in my oven. Maybe it’s an altitude thing.

Read the full run-through here.

Head cold, I spit in your face. And eat cake. So much cake. [tears.]

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Cakery Bakery: Cinnamon roll cake

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I finished work on Friday. Not forever, but for long enough. Oh, it was like being let out of school before the long summer holiday, only with several hundred added Braxton Hicks. I bought a newborn car seat, in celebration (by heck do I know how to live). And then I made a cake.

It felt like a conquered mountain in itself, this cake. Baking is rather difficult at present, with a) Henry trying to get his tongue into the egg whites and b) all of this foetus to carry around. And I am generally obsessed with cinnamon rolls, but without a breadmaker can never be bothered to go through with them. Well, have a look at this: cinnamon roll cake, from The Girl Who Ate Everything (still working my way through her website. Still in love). It’s like a giant cinnamon roll, but without any dough palaver. Why didn’t anyone think of this before?

It didn’t go entirely smoothly, I admit. It started well: the cake mix is one of those wonderful throw-everything-in-a-bowl-and-press-go types, which always makes me happy. I used my free-standing mixer, but a handheld electric one would work just as well. That part is over and in a baking tin before you can say LITTLE BOY, PLEASE MOVE YOUR FACE AWAY FROM THAT EGG.

Then you prepare what the recipe calls topping, but is more like filling: cinnamon, soft butter, brown sugar and pecans all mixed together. My butter wasn’t quite soft enough, so I prepared the pecans separately, thinking it might be easier to whisk without them (it was). The instructions said to put tablespoonfuls of the filling on top of the cake mix, then use a knife to ‘marble’ it in. Well. My filling spoonfuls sat on top of the cake mix like daubs of cold peanut butter, and clearly weren’t going to marble anywhere at all. I ended up mashing them in any old how. It was messy, and left my cake looking like it had a bad case of acne (especially once I put the pecans on top), but we forged on.

Marbling [mashing]. Before and after.

Marbling [mashing]. Before and after.

Then came the real trouble. In the oven for 25-30 minutes, said the recipe. Which I did. I took the cake out, poked in a knife, and was utterly horrified when a lava-flow of grease came flooding out. I realised it was the butter/sugar solution, partying away on the inside. Who on earth would want to eat a grease cake?! I put it back in for another ten minutes. No grease this time, but lots of raw cake mix. Another ten minutes. And another ten. Thirty-five minutes after the recipe said it would be done, it was done. I wasn’t at all sure it would be edible, by this point.

Thank goodness for cream cheese frosting. The recipe gives instructions for a glaze that looks like a thin form of icing. But cinnamon rolls need cream cheese frosting, yes? It just feels right. I used this recipe, halved. It’s the sort of thing I can happily eat from the bowl, with a spatula. I would eat it on toast. I would probably lick it off a wall, to be honest, but for the time being it was jolly lovely on the cake.

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The verdict, then:

Deliciousness: Do you know, after all that, it was wonderful. Extremely fluffy, gloriously messy and crumbly. I don’t know why it took half an hour longer in the oven than it should’ve done, but it didn’t suffer for it. The filling makes sandy little cinnamon blobs in the middle of every slice, and the frosting and pecans together are lovely.

Complexity: If I can work out the correct oven time, it’s a cinch: measure, mix, dump in a tin. So much easier than proper cinnamon rolls. Now I have an ominous feeling.

Washing-up pile: Two bowls and some cutlery. Nice and easy (not – um – that I actually did the clearing up. Thanks, kitchen wonders!).

Casualties: Here is a life lesson – you don’t want to wipe a ladleful of sugar/butter/cinnamon out of a toddler’s face and hair. Ever. That stuff clings.

Oh gosh, it's not going to come off. Is it?

This was the moment I realised it wasn’t going to come off.

The recipe for cinnamon roll cake is here, and the frosting I used is at the bottom of the page here. Go go go!

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Cakery Bakery: Strawberry cream puff cake

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We made it to May!

I don’t have any maypoles handy, and I’m not keen on the idea of gathering nuts, in May or otherwise. But, do you know, it feels like an awfully long time since I made some cake. It being May and all, we decided to bake something appropriate for sunny weather. THIS MEANS STRAWBERRIES.

I discovered, recently, a great recipe website called The Girl Who Ate Everything. Her chicken taco soup is now one of our evening staples. And today we decided on this: a strawberry cream puff cake. What is a puff cake, I wondered? Even now I’m not really sure what the answer is. The base is somewhere between eggy pudding, souffle and pastry. It’s topped with a cream cheese/whipped cream frosting, and lots of strawberries. And it tastes amazing. This is all you need to know.

The cream puff layer comes first. You melt butter, water and sugar in a saucepan, bring it to the boil, then dump in a load of flour and stir like billy-oh. Boiling sugar always makes me nervous, and so does adding flour to anything on the stove, but it turned into a kind of play-doh mixture without any explosions. Three eggs and a whisk later, the mixture is done. You pour it into a springform tin and it goes in the oven. After 25 minutes, the thing is golden brown, gigantic and making a valiant effort to climb out of the tin. You stab it several times with a toothpick to squash any of that nonsense, and then put it back in for a bit. Done, and done. I do love a cake that’s supposed to sink in the middle. It makes a nice change.

The cream cheese topping is cream cheese, icing sugar, heavy whipping cream (I substituted double cream, Englishers) and a bit of vanilla. The recipe also says orange zest, but I didn’t have any ready-made and couldn’t be bothered to grate some, so I missed it out. I don’t think it suffered without it. That goes on the cooled cream puff base – do wait till it’s properly cool, or it’ll melt horribly – with chopped strawberries on top of that. Like the Girl Who Ate Everything, I chopped my strawberries while the base was cooking, and put them in the fridge with a bit of sugar until they were needed. They sat in their own syrup, and were lovely.

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Henry spent a good half hour afterwards licking the beaters and trying to clean out the cream cheese bowl with a spatula. I’ll remember that for later.

I think possibly I undercooked my base a little – it was definitely more eggy pudding than pastry at the bottom – but it was delicious anyway. The cream cheese topping is wonderful (you can ask Henry’s vest). And strawberries, well. It felt like the perfect end to a sunshiny day.

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Deliciousness: Make it now. Oh alright, finish reading this first. THEN go make it.

Complexity: Not only was it very easy – the crumply base is the sort of thing that is supposed to look artfully dishevelled, so it’s hard to get wrong – but the ingredients were primarily items I already had. Which is always a nice bonus.

Washing-up pile: You guys, I haven’t washed up in two days. I have no idea how many of those eighty-seven items are baking related.

Casualties: Unless you can overdose on cheesy cream, I think we’ll all be fine.

The recipe for this cake is here. Go go go!

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Cakery Bakery: Cookie-dough crumble

Otherwise known as: The Dessert That Gets Weirder The More You Think About It But Is Actually Really Nice And, Moreover, Very Easy Indeed.

We had people over for dinner on Wednesday evening. It was a long, busy day and I didn’t have time to bake for dessert. So I found this, which has to be one of the quickest, throw-together puddings I’ve ever tried. And you never know when you might need one of those.

Fruit crumble with cookie dough on top sounded like an idea straight from the mind of Zeus when I first found it in my BBC Good Food book. I love crumble AND cookies, and the only two ingredients were ready-made, so it couldn’t be easier. We ran out to the supermarket at ten to five and bought two pots of ready-made cookie dough, and a carton of frozen fruit (the recipe suggests forest fruits, but I’m not a huge fan, so got some strawberries and blueberries instead). Yessss. The sausage, apple and sage pie was ready for the main course – best pie in the universe, in case you’re wondering; that one definitely came from the mind of Zeus – and now this wonder for afterwards.

Then I started thinking about it. Chocolate chips… and frozen fruit? Wouldn’t the fruit go all watery in the oven? How well would that mix with chocolate chip cookies? To make matters worse, I’d automatically bought custard to go with it, and the thought of combining partially-cooked chocolate chip cookie + possibly watery strawberries + custard, of all things, CUSTARD made me feel a little funny.

It was lovely to put together, though. I added sugar to the frozen fruit, thinking it might otherwise be a little tart. Then I pulled off bits of cookie dough and pinched them together on top, cobbler style. Beautifully satisfying, and it looked fabulous.

We ran into some baking difficulties when it came to the cooking time (it wouldn’t be Wednesday without them, would it?). The recipe said 20 minutes, but once we took it out, the cookie dough was still sludgy and partially cooked. We left it another ten minutes and matters hadn’t improved much, but we were on a deadline so ate it as it was. I think the dense supermarket cookie dough might have been to blame: next time I’ll make dough from scratch and see if it helps. Because, in fact, it was delicious. The fruit did produce a lot of juice underneath, and the cookie topping was more the consistency of cement than cookies. But for some reason, it worked. I try not to argue with stuff that tastes nice.

I’d be interested to try it with fresh fruit, as well, but not yet: buying that many strawberries out of season might actually bankrupt me.

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(I’m afraid I didn’t get a photo after it had been in the oven. Since the dough didn’t cook all that well, it looked quite a lot like this. But hotter.)

Deliciousness: Weirdly irresistible. Would’ve been even better with a proper cookie texture on top.

Complexity: An assembly job of five minutes or less. You could keep the ingredients in your freezer and have it at short notice whenever you jolly well fancied.

Washing-up pile: One oven dish. Yes, really.

Casualties: It was heavy stuff, and we ate too much of it. Then spent the whole evening afterwards groaning in trouser-straining discomfort.

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Cakery Bakery: Strawberry tea bread

Good pottery just calls to me. I have far too much of it and nowhere to put it. But who can resist a birthday bread-baker, discovered in the sunshine and handed over with a collection of homemade bread recipes?

Well, not me, obviously, since here it is.

This is strawberry tea bread – the only recipe in the collection that could be considered dessert – and it has been the nicest baking surprise of the year so far, I think. Mostly because anything baked in a pottery cooking pot is inherently delightful, and that is the end of it.

Start with strawberries. The recipe calls for 10 oz of frozen strawberries, but I thought that fresh ones would work better, even though they’re not in season. We found a box of astonishingly huge, aptly named ‘King Strawberries’ on sale at the supermarket. They also worked jolly well as an ice lolly.

Chop your strawberries into small, cake-friendly pieces and mix with two beaten eggs. Then add flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and a hefty amount of cinnamon. Finally you add melted butter, which, to my relief, bound the dry and strawberry-heavy mixture into cake batter. And it fit in the bread-baker very nicely.

As usual with anything involving fruit, it takes an age to cook - an hour and fifteen minutes, according to the recipe, but an hour and thirty in my whimsical oven – but it looked marvellous when it emerged. It was squashy and hard to cut into slices, but yum, yum, yum.

Dear pottery sellers, this isn’t bread at all: this is cake. But reclassifying it meant we could get out the cream, so all is forgiven.

I’m sure they’d be delighted to find more strawberry tea bread in the world – they looked like lovely people, anyway - so here’s the recipe.

Strawberry Tea Bread

1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
10 oz frozen/fresh strawberries (if you use frozen, thaw them and save the juice to use in the cake batter)
2/3 cup melted butter

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
Beat eggs. Add chopped strawberries (plus juice, if using frozen), then add dry ingredients and melted butter. Mix thoroughly.
Pour into well-greased bread-baker. Place in cold oven and set temperature to 180°C.
Bake for 1 hr 15 mins. Allow to cool for 10 mins before removing from bread-baker.

Don’t eat it all at once. Ok, you can if you like.

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Cakery Bakery: I need a perfect chocolate brownie recipe. Come forth, you saucy devil.

Between you and me, my world was rocked last week by a chocolate brownie.

I am a taker-or-leaver, when it comes to brownie – too sickly when it’s gooey, and too chewy when it’s not – though of course I would never turn one down. Last week, however, a friend made a brownie that turned all of my pooh-poohs upside down. It was moist and chocolatey and delicious. It was like the best kind of chocolate cake, but somehow even better. It was a Nigel Slater recipe (who’s he?).

It got me thinking. Revelations about baked goods usually do. What if brownies could be this amazing all the time? Everyone has a brownie recipe tucked away. What if I made a bold investigation  of lots of different recipes and found one that changed my brownie opinion forever?

Lawks a’ mercy. Imagine it. Lives changed. Brownies consumed. Nigel Slater identified. It would be too good to be true.

So this week, I began where my heart is: Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. This book started me on the path of bakehood, and I love it. Her basic brownie recipe makes an astonishing 48 pieces (really, Nigella?!), so I halved it and ran with that.

(An interjection: we are having an interesting week, baby-wise. I have quite a few photos of a snotty, angry Henricus throwing an eight-month-old tantrum on the floor – because in the end it was making me laugh – but this week, not very many photos of the baking process. In fact, none at all. Have this one, instead:

My apologies.)

You start by melting dark chocolate and butter, then in a separate bowl beating eggs and sugar, then in another separate bowl sifting flour and salt. I’m not entirely sure why so many bowls were necessary, especially as you then combine all the ingredients, but I’m not Nigella. If I were, I’d be cooking in a much fancier kitchen and wearing a silk dressing gown, probably.

I considered the oven time carefully, as I wanted something on the soft, undercooked side. The recipe said 25 minutes, and in the end I think I left it in for 20. Remember it continues to cook as it cools, so err on the spongy side if that’s what you want.

And so, ta-da:

All-in-all, these were quite a pleasant surprise, though not the game-changer I was hoping for. Fresh from the oven, they were exactly what I wanted – soft and damp and full of promise – although, as they cooled, they became denser. The day after, they were denser still, although Tim was more of a fan of this than I was. This recipe also includes walnuts. I happen to like nuts in cake very much, but Timothy gave a howl of protest when I told him it wasn’t white chocolate. You may want to substitute, but I thought they worked well.

(I fed two and a half crumbs to my baby to make the screeching stop for five minutes. Bad mother? It worked like a charm, so I can’t even feel too guilty about it.)

Final marks, after consultation:

Chocolateyness: 7.

Moistness: 6.

Staying power: 4. Not so good the day after.

Now it’s your turn. Which is your favourite brownie recipe? Do you have one of your own? May I try it?

Leave a comment below. This could change my life, you guys.

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Cakery Bakery: strawberry and cinnamon torte

FYI: I’ve decided to put my cakery bakery posts on here for the time being. You can go here for the archives. Happy eating :-)

A question: what do you do with two half-boxes of strawberries, lightly furred? Pick out the non-mouldy ones and put them in a cake, that’s what. What’s life without a little bacterial risk, eh? Live a little.

I’ve had my eye on this snazzy little summer number for a little while, and today was sunny enough for me to try it. The magic ingredient here – apart from the strawberries – is ground almonds: they give the torte a dense, crumby, squishy texture without adding obtrusively to the taste (a little goes a long way with almond, I think).

Begin at the beginning, then. If you’ve – shocker – got a large food processor, this is the easiest cake of all time. Just throw all the ingredients in and whizz them together. If you have not – raise your hands, you slackers – then you’ll need to do it by hand like I did, but it’s not hard. Cream butter and sugar, then add self-raising flour, cinnamon, an egg-and-a-half and the ground almonds. You end up with a stiff, blobby mixture that looks like biscuit dough. End of stage one.

Then you chop some strawberries. If you are me, you salvage the strawberries that aren’t growing other life forms and scald them in very hot water before chopping them, but that’s by-the-by. Put half the dough in a springform tin, then layer the strawberries on top.

NOTE – thanks to the mould, I had only 200g strawberries instead of the recommended 450g. That seemed like plenty to me, but increasing the strawberries in any given situation can only make things better, in my experience.

The other half of the dough goes on top of the strawberries. It’s not all that spreadable: for the bottom layer I used my hands, and for the top layer, skidding helplessly around on strawberries, I blobbed the dough on top in little bits, then pinched them together. The end result looks a lot like a cobbler topping, but this is no bad thing.

Fruit takes forever, if you recall, so it goes in the oven for an hour. An hour. Try and do something useful in between, like throwing away a moderate quantity of gone-off strawberries. I kept the oven on quite low, and after a little dash of icing sugar, this was the result.

Ohhhh this is a good one, my friends. The top stays crispy and bobbly while the inside is a densely-packed delight. The strawberries stew down into a deliciously sweet middle layer that is, be warned, as hot as the sun when you bite into it.

Deliciousness: This is a cake with the texture of a giant chocolate-chip cookie. That’s probably all I need to say. Oh my giddy aunt, can you imagine what this might be like with chocolate chips?!

Complexity: Nice and easy. I had the whole thing done and in the oven before the baby could raise a squeak. Even easier if you’ve got a food processor.

Washing-up pile: Nine items. And, glory be, none of them sticky.

Casualties: There may possibly be something mould-based developing in my stomach lining. Let’s cross that botulism bridge when we come to it, shall we?

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