Monday, 23 May 2011

The week of the cake - take two!

After baking the Coconut Layer Cake, I was left with seven spare egg whites. Being pretty useless at meringues, I had a quick flick through the pink bible to see if there was anything that I could chuck them into... and I didn't get very far through before I found the Angel Food Cake!

Ten egg whites? No butter? No caster sugar? Certainly not your typical sponge recipe, and I did ponder for a few seconds whether anything had been left off the ingredients list - but I carried on regardless!

This is definitely one that you need a hand whisk for, and preferably an electric one. Some of the Hummingbird recipes you can get away with doing by hand, but not this one! These angels require a bit of electric spark!

Egg whites all whipped up and looking angelic, I (carefully) threw the rest of the ingredients in and... that was it! So simple. The sponge bakes for 50 minutes, so longer than I'd bake a "normal" Victoria sponge, and comes out a delightful golden colour...

I took this one to my mum's house to have after Sunday lunch and, as you can see from the following picture, it went down very well. Angelically white inside and perfect with a cuppa tea in the evening, too.

Note - do not breathe out while taking a bite as you end up with "fairy dust" (ie icing sugar) all over the place!

The week of the cake - take one!

Last week saw me a little bit snowed under with a birthday cake order and desperately trying to think of something to do for our fourth wedding anniversary.

Over the past few years we have always stuck to the "traditional" anniversary gifts - first year was paper, second year was cotton, and so on... well, four years is celebrated with flowers. Easy! If you're a guy buying for a gal...

I wracked mine and my Twitter pals' brains, but aside from something for the garden (which would have been disastrous considering I don't "do" gardens) all I could think of was flowers... flour... so I went with it!

The boy is often subjected to hours of "wow, look at this one!" and "mmmmm, can't wait to make these" as I flick through my pink bible, but the one we have both expressed big Mmms at is the Coconut Layer Cake. I promised him I would do this for his birthday in November, but that seems an age away, so I got cracking on it for our anniversary using my flowers = flour logic.

Sourcing the ingredients for this one was as much a challenge as the baking and creating! I "finally" tracked down a couple of tins of coconut milk in the 'Indian' section of my local (orange-coloured) supermarket.

The only thing I couldn't find anywhere, much to my disappointment, was a fresh coconut to grate and roast for decoration. But this wasn't a strictly necessary part of the cake, and I improvised at the end with dessicated coconut - yum!

This cake was involved, but fairly straightforward to make. The Hummingbird, as ever, described and instructed each step of the method brilliantly. I even managed to make my coconut custard for the filling and decoration lump-free!

One thing I will say is to make sure you have set aside plenty of time... this isn't one you can do in a rush... unless you're Nigella, goddess of the kitchen, but even then I think she'd be too distracted with licking her fingers provocatively and pouting at the camera!

The finished cake went down very well indeed and the boy was more than impressed with his anniversary present! He even shared a few pieces with our nieces and nephews and I got the thumbs up from all of them, too!

Only problem with this cake is... it's too moreish! Well worth the extra time and effort... and another word of advice - don't throw out the egg whites left over from the seven egg yolks you need... they go seven-tenths of the way there for the ten egg whites you need for the Angel Food Cake! Cue 'The week of the cake - part two'!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Just a quickie from me last night (oo-er, missus!) - I had several bags of mixed nuts that I'd picked up cheap at the weekend, and a spare few minutes in the kitchen, so after a quick flick through my little pink bible I landed on the Mixed Nut Bars. And boy, am I glad that I did!

So quick and so easy... and, oh, so yummy! Very moreish though... dangerously so!

I'd never made anything like the mixed nut bars before and was a little apprehensive, but the method looked simple enough (and was so simply explained, as is the Hummingbird's typical style). I got stuck in and in no time at all my kitchen smelt sweet and homely... see, make a proper housewife out of me yet!

I've brought the finished article into the office today as a Tuesday treat and, so far, all the comments have been good! I've had a little taste and am more than pleased with how these bars came out... can't wait to try my hand at the next nutty recipe now!

Keep an eye on the blog... it's my wedding anniversary on Thursday and I'm planning on making the Hummingbird's coconut cake for the boy (he hasn't dropped "too" many hints about it!). Fourth wedding anniversary - traditional gift is flower, but I figure I can change that to "flour", right?

Monday, 9 May 2011

It's for charidee

Today's the day of our charity cake sale at work, in aid of Great Ormond Street. One of our colleague's sons has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and so we wanted to do something to help, and thought what better way than to sell some cakey goodies?!

I decided to make some cupcakes, as these are easy to dress up and make pretty. I had some leftover buttercream that - for the first time ever - I had frozen, so I defrosted this and it seems to have turned out ok. I made the Hot Chocolate Cupcake sponge as the base... nice, easy recipe and a lovely moist and light sponge.

I then slathered the cupcakes in the pink frosting and decorated with pretty sweeties.

I am continually getting bugged by the token irish guy at work to make a coffee and walnut cake. I don't even like coffee! So, having read that the coffee and chocolate loaf from the Hummingbird isn't "too" coffee-y, I thought I'd give this a go.

My only bit of advice - that I'd do well to listen to myself! - is to read the recipe before you start. I got stuck in, creaming and beating... then got to the coffee bit. "Brewed and cooled coffee". Oops. Cue sitting around for ages waiting for a cup of coffee to cool! I also wasn't sure about the strength of the coffee. Not being a coffee drinker, I don't know what constitutes "strong", so I just heaped a load of granules in and hoped for the best.

This is what I ended up with!

I also did a recipe that I've done before, the Snickerdoodle cookie recipe, but instead of the cinnamon, I added chocolate chips and only rolled the cookie dough balls in sugar. They look and taste fab! I haven't got a picture, unfortunately, but think fat golden choc-chip cookies, and you've got it!

Cake sale starts at half ten... fingers crossed we make a tidy little sum for the Hospital!