Friday, 28 February 2014

Chocolate and Sweet Orange Marmalade Devil’s Food Cake

Readers, I’ve been on a baking mission this week.  I am also away for work this weekend and right now, I’m in a lonely hotel room, awaiting a room service fish dish…  So I figured, no better time to blog. 

This week, one of my colleagues left work, so I promised her a celebration cake.  Chocolate had to get involved in some way. (For her benefit, not mine, I promise!)

The lovely Sophie from Sophie Loves Food recently developed an amazing Chocolate and Orange Marmalade Devil’s Food Cake Recipe for Great British Food Magazine and this seemed like the perfect celebration cake solution.  I pretty much stuck to Sophie’s recipe, apart from swapping golden caster sugar for regular caster sugar, as it was all I had in the house.  I also used 2 x 8in cake tins, as I didn’t have 3 x 7in ones.  I decided to use a sweet orange marmalade as well, rather than the traditional bitter marmalade which Sophie worked with. However, the recipe turned out well.

I also amended the frosting and decoration to create more of a celebration cake.  My colleagues were delighted with the cake and I believe, when I return from my trip next week, I’m being greeted by an empty Tupperware tub!

The version of the recipe I used is below or to find Sophie’s original recipe, click here 

I have entered this recipe into #recipeoftheweek held at A Mummy Too

Chocolate and Sweet Orange Marmalade Devil’s Food Cake

Chocolate Marmalade Devils Food Cake

Cake Ingredients 

2 x 8in cake pans
3 large eggs, room temperature
280g unsalted butter, softened
340g caster sugar
125ml sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
300ml boiling water
115g dark chocolate, chopped
75g cocoa powder

Buttercream Ingredients

4 heaped tbsp sweet orange marmalade
100g dark chocolate, broken into squares
160g unsalted butter, softened
350g icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Cake Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease two 8-inch deep sandwich tins and line the bottom of each with greaseproof paper.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in a teaspoon of flour with each egg to prevent curdling. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix until well incorporated.
    Mix minus chocolate ingredients
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the boiling water, chocolate and cocoa powder until smooth. Fold into the cake batter until just incorporated.
    Finished cake batter 
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the two tins, smooth the tops with a spatula and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Place the cakes in tins to cool on a wire rack. Whilst cooling, brush the tops of each with 2 tbsp of Mackays marmalade loosened with a dash of hot water.
  7. Allow to cool fully, remove from tins and prepare your buttercream.

Buttercream Method

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Beat the butter for a few minutes to soften and become easier to work with.
  3. Sift in the icing sugar. Continue to beat until you have a light, fluffy buttercream.
  4. In a separate bowl, decant from the jar 3 dessert spoons of marmalade.  Pass through a sieve and into your buttercream.  Ensure the peel doesn’t pass through the sieve. Discard the peel. Beat into buttercream mixture.
    Preparing the marmalade 

    Beat in the prepared marmalade
  5. Beat in the cocoa powder, then, beat in the cooled chocolate.
    Delicious chocolate buttercream
  6. Using a pallet knife, spread the buttercream over the top of one half of the cake and place the second half on top.  Then, cover the top of the cake with buttercream and also the sides, to create a smooth, even finish.
  7. Add additional decorations and piping if desired.
    Chocolate Marmalade Devil's Food Cake
    Et Voila! Finished cake!

Claire’s Tips

  1. I stored this cake overnight in the refrigerator to help the frosting harden up and to ensure the cake retained its shape. I removed it a couple of hours prior to serving.
  2. I would store the cake in a refrigerator overnight once it’s been cut (if it’s not all eaten in one sitting!)
  3. Try adding an additional colour to the cake, with fancy piping on the top.
  4. A simple vanilla frosting would also work well with this cake. 
    Close up of piping

I'm entering this cake into March's #teatimetreats hosted this month at The Hedge Combers and on alternate months at Lavender and Lovage.  The Theme this month is cake decorating and as I did this by hand, figured it would be a good entry. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Readers, after thinking I would be lacking in time to bake or blog this week, I managed a quick bake on Sunday.  Seriously quick… Got the ingredients together and bang, in the oven.  45 minutes later, my lounge filled with the smell of chocolate brownie.

Not only do I love chocolate, I also love peanut butter.  It’s seriously versatile.   Whether you are an on toast, spoon in a jar, Chinese Satay Sauce, or use in baking kind of person, it’s great for all sorts of kitchen ideas.

I had a full jar in the cupboard and Mr What Claire Baked woke up on Sunday, stuck his head out from under the duvet and asked for “cake”.  Vague request some may say… opportunity to use up random ingredients in the cupboard I say.

I used a very easy recipe from BBC Good Food.  It’s my go-to site for all new bakes, before I get experimental with recipes.   Only 5 ingredients are required, so this isn’t an expensive bake.

These went down a treat.  There’s non left – I got 16 small squares from the tin – ooops (it’s only Tuesday, sorry diet).  I can also recommend these warmed for 30 secs in the microwave served with creamy vanilla ice cream.  DELICIOUS.

I have entered this recipe into #recipeoftheweek held at A Mummy Too

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Traybake (BBC Good Food)


225g peanut butter (crunchy is best)
200g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
280g soft light brown sugar
3 medium eggs
100g self raising flour


  1. Set aside 50g of peanut butter and 50g of chocolate, for decoration
  2. Heat oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4.  Line a silicone square traybake tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Melt remaining peanut butter, sugar and chocolate in a non stick pan, until sugar has almost melted.  Make sure to keep stirring so the chocolate doesn’t burn.
    Add the sugar, peanut butter and chocolate to the pan

    Sugar almost melted
  4. When mixture is combined and sugar almost melted, remove pan from heat.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until mix becomes smooth and glossy.
    Beat in the eggs
  5. Sieve the flour into the pan and stir to combine.  Once combined, pour mix into the lined tin and smooth out. 
  6. Melt the remaining peanut butter in the microwave for around 30 – 45 seconds until runny.  Drizzle over top of mixture.
    Peanut butter on top of the mixture - before going into oven
  7. Bake in the oven for 32-35 minutes, or until a crust has formed on the top of the brownie but the sponge is still soft and a little undercooked.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin.  Once cool to touch, melt remaining chocolate in a microwavable cup for around 40 seconds.  Drizzle over the top of the brownie and allow to set.
 Once set, cut into squares and serve.  These brownies will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days.  (Almost a guarantee they will disappear in less than 48 hours though!)
The finished article!  

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Oven Baked Sticky Chicken

Readers, it’s been a busy week and next weekend I’m working away, so baking has been limited!  I’m planning a leaving cake for a colleague mid week (watch this space) but for now, I’ve delved into the deep unknown… savoury baking.

I'm also taking a risk and I have entered this recipe into #recipeoftheweek held at A Mummy Too

Nope, not tarts or pastry… sticky chicken.  I baked it in the oven, so that counts right?
Sticky chicken with rice
Sticky Chicken with Rice

To try and balance out the love of cakes, Mr What Claire Baked and I have been cooking non stop from the Hairy Bikers, Hairy Dieters 2nd cook book.  There are some amazing dishes in the book and none of them taste like diet food.
Image source:

Friday night is traditionally take out night, but for anyone trying to maintain a healthy weight, takeaways are the sin of the devil.

So we made our own.

Sticky Chicken adapted from The Hairy Dieters 

Ingredients- serves two

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
5 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
200g long grain rice (microwaveable pouch)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c Fan/Gas 6 and line a baking tray with tin foil.
  2. Cut each chicken breast into 5 or 6 pieces and season with salt and black pepper.
    Season with salt and pepper before cooking
  3. Add the ketchup, vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce and chilli flakes to a medium non stick pan.   Stir all ingredients together and bring to a simmer on a low heat (several minutes).
    Ingredients at the ready

    Sauce ready - now add the chicken
  4. Once simmering, remove from the heat and stir in the chicken breasts, ensuring they are completely coated in the sauce.
    Stir chicken and coat fully in the sauce
  5. Remove chicken from pan and place on baking tray.  Bake for 15 minutes.
    Chicken ready to go in the oven
  6. Remove from oven and brush over any sauce that has fallen onto the tray back onto the chicken. Return to oven for another 10 minutes (I raised the temperature to 200c Fan for the last few moments, to make the sauce more sticky and glossy).
  7. Whilst the chicken is finishing, cook the rice and plate up.
  8. Remove chicken from oven and serve with rice.
The finished article!
Claire’s Tips
·                 The original recipe suggested using chicken thighs, but we opted for breast meat, however, this could work well with thighs for the bbq.
·                 Enjoy the day after with a salad, if you have any leftovers.
·                 Cut into even smaller pieces and thread onto cocktail sticks to make mini kebabs for a buffet.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Orange Marmalade and Champagne Cupcakes

Readers, today I decided to bake with the contents of my store cupboard and seeing as it’s coming to the end of Seville orange season, decided marmalade would be a good inclusion in today’s cupcakes.

Traditionally, this is marmalade making season.  Seville oranges are in stores, so it’s a very relevant time to be making marmalade or, if you are like me (and lacking in the patience to do so), using a good quality bought marmalade to cook or bake with.  

Also, people always comment that they are left with half jars of marmalade at the back of the fridge – this recipe provides a perfect solution to use up any leftovers, or that random jar you received in a hamper at Christmas.

I cheated slightly – I used marmalade with sweet oranges in my recipe today (rather than a traditional Seville orange) for a sweeter flavour.  The hint of champagne also gave a touch of luxury to my recipe.

This is a first time experiment, so I had a few things I would adapt for next time which I've built into the recipe below.

I took these along for my family to enjoy this afternoon and they were a hit.  I was a bit worried that they came out of the oven darker than my usual recipe, however, they tasted fine and I think the inclusion of marmalade may have had something to do with it.

Orange Marmalade with Champagne Cupcakes

Orange Marmalade Cupcakes

Cake Ingredients
(makes 10 large cupcakes)

125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour, sifted
1 level teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 dessert spoons Mackays Orange Marmalade with Champagne (sieved to remove peel)
2 dessert spoons orange juice

Buttercream Ingredients

125g unsalted butter, softened
400g icing sugar
2 dessert spoons Mackays Orange Marmalade with Champagne (sieved to remove peel)
2 dessert spoons orange juice
1 x disposable piping bag
1 x Wilton 1M nozzle (my favourite)

Lay out all ingredients before you start
  1. Preheat oven to 190c/Fan 170c/Gas 5, then fill a muffin tin with 10 cupcake cases.
  2. In a large bowl, cream softened butter and caster sugar.  I use an electric mixer for this part. Cream until light and fluffy.
  3. Strain the marmalade through a sieve until the liquid and peel are separate.  Discard the peel.
    Straining the marmalade through a sieve
  4. Whisk in the marmalade to the sugar and butter mix.
  5. Whisk in beaten eggs a little at a time and a teaspoon of flour with each addition.  This helps to stop the mix curdling.
  6. Once all eggs are added, use a metal spoon and fold in remaining flour.  Add the orange juice and vanilla extract and mix to combine.  The mix should have a dropping consistency.
  7. Spoon the mix evenly into the 10 paper cases, to less than ¾ full and put the tray in the oven.
  8. Bake for 17-18 minutes until dark golden in colour and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
    Fresh from oven - large cupcake cases were used
  9. Remove from tray and cool on a wire rack.

Buttercream Method

  1. Beat the butter until smooth
  2. Strain the marmalade through a sieve until the liquid and peel are separate.  Discard the peel. Whisk in the marmalade to the butter.
    Sieved marmalade 
    Butter and marmalade mixed together
  3. Slowly add in the icing sugar, whisking into the mix as you go.  I tend to taste as I go, to make sure it’s not too buttery.  You can add more icing sugar, to your taste, but make sure it’s still smooth enough to be piped (not too thick)
  4. Add in the orange juice to the mix. and combine.  Taste. Make sure mix is thick enough to pipe.  
  5. Spoon the mix into a disposable piping bag fitted with a nozzle. 
  6. Make sure cakes are cool, then pipe swirls over each cake, in an upwards movement, to create a swirl.
  7. Decorate with further cake décor if required.
  8. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for a couple of days.
The finished article

Claire’s Tips

  1. The first time I made these, the inclusion of marmalade and orange juice made my buttercream softer than usual and more difficult to pipe.  I firmed it up in the fridge which helped after piping.
  2. Fill the cupcake cases to between ½ and ¾ full not to the top, otherwise they will overflow.
  3. This recipe would also work with fruit jams (just strain out any lumpy fruit first, as you did with the marmalade).
    Setting the buttercream in the fridge

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes – Inspired By The 99

Readers, today I’ve been inspired by The 99.  Now I’m not sure if it’s a Scottish/British/recognised across the Globe thing, but you can’t beat a 99.

A 99, for those who don’t know, is: ice cream cone, topped with Mr Whippy Ice Cream (flavoured if you can please) and finished with a chocolate flake.

Today’s bake is inspired by my trips to the ice cream van on holiday when I was young.  This time round, though, it didn't end up all over my face!

I also received a fabulous little sample pack from my friends at Sugar and Crumbs.  They recently put out a call to bloggers to trial some of their new icing sugar flavours and today I tried their new Salted Caramel Icing Sugar.

Sugar and Crumbs offer a range of naturally flavoured icing sugars, for you to create exciting cake décor.  They have over 30 flavours in the range and the products are exceptionally easy to work with.

So, today, my cupcakes were decorated with buttercream made with the salted caramel icing sugar.   I received a 125g sample bag, which was ample for 12 cupcakes as I mixed it with around 200g plain icing sugar.  The taste of salted caramel is most definitely there even when combining with plain icing sugar. 

I would definitely recommend the Sugar and Crumbs products for even the most novice baker.  The flavours add a new dimension to cupcakes, without you having to think how to flavour your icing.

I teamed the buttercream with my new fail safe chocolate cupcake recipe, which I adapted from All Recipes – you’ll get the link in my Burns Night post.

I finished each cake with a couple of milk chocolate and honeycomb squares – a modern touch on the 99 Flake!

Salted Caramel Cupcake Recipe

Makes 18 cakes
(I iced 12 with the buttercream and dusted 6 with the leftover salted caramel icing sugar)

Cake Ingredients

60g Cadbury Bourneville cocoa powder
10 dessert spoons boiling hot water (more if still dry and lumpy)
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
120g self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs

Buttercream Ingredients

200g plain icing sugar
125g unsalted butter

Cake Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ Fan 180c / Gas Mark 4. Line 2 - 12 hole bun trays with colourful cupcake cases.
  2. Sift the cocoa into a large bowl; add 10-12 dessert spoons of boiling water and mix into a thick chocolate syrup, adding more water if you need to. Add the softened butter, sugar, self-raising flour, baking powder and eggs. Mix with electric beaters until smooth and evenly mixed.
    Sifting cocoa powder helps to prevent lumps
    Add the boiling water and mix to a paste

    All In One Method - ready to be mixed
    Cake Batter!
  3. Spoon ½ dessert spoons of the mixture into the paper cases, filling them 3/4 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the sponge mixture has risen and the cupcakes spring back when you touch them. Insert a metal skewer – if it comes out clean, cakes are ready.
    Ready to go in the oven
  4. Remove from the oven; cool on a wire rack before decorating.
    Getting set to work with the Salted Caramel Icing Sugar
    Check cakes are fully cooled before you ice.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Method

1. Add your softened butter to a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
2. Slowly add in up to 125g Sugar and Crumbs Salted Caramel Icing Sugar.
3. Once mixed, add in up to 200g plain icing sugar.
4. Continue to mix until light, fluffy and you have a consistency suitable for piping.

Buttercream ready to go into the piping bag
5. Spoon the mix into a disposable piping bag, fitted with a nozzle – I like Wilton 1M.
6. Make sure cakes are cool, then pipe swirls over each cake, in a circular motion.
7. Decorate with pieces of honeycomb chocolate.
The finished article!
8. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for a couple of days.

This one is for me!
Disclosure Statement: I received the samples from Sugar and Crumbs for free, to bake with.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Baking a Daisy Birthday Cake and Butterfly Cupcakes


Tonight’s post is nothing new. It’s a long forgotten bake from the archives.  But as I’m feeling miserable and dreaming of summer days, I’m bringing these out to cheer me up.

Last year, my granny/baking mentor/generally awesome old lady moved to sheltered flat.  It may not have been under ideal circumstances, but her new home is an ideal social hub – she goes to exercise groups, plays bingo, has been to the cinema and for every resident’s birthday, they have a party.     

I was asked to make a cake for the occasion and as it was her friend’s birthday the next day, something suitable for the day after.

A Victoria Sponge always goes down well– so I kept the cake simple – lashings of buttercream and Mackays Strawberry Preserve with Champagne as the filling.  Fondant icing and yellow daisies were all individually pressed over the top, and then the cake was finished with a yellow ribbon to cheer everyone up.
Close up of the daisies - I iced a white centre in each flower
I bought some pearl hearts from Hobbycraft, which I think were meant for wedding flowers, but used them as a 3D decoration on the top of the cake.
Pearl hearts as a topper on the cake 
I used my Butterfly Birthday Cake recipe to make the cake and then decorated it from an idea I had in my head.

I guess this post is less instructional and more about encouraging people to consider making an occasion cake.  Two cake pans and the right ingredients will get you started.  The cake has no additives or preservatives if it’s made by you. It’s personal and I can guarantee that the recipient will be touched by the effort you've made.
The finished article
Likewise, a muffin tin, paper cases, scales and ingredients will have you on your way to making cupcakes.  They are by no means a difficult bake – heck, go for an all in one method if you are a novice.   Or for the more adventurous, go the traditional route – there’s a cupcake recipe here for you to try. 

Here's the cupcakes I made for my Granny's friend. Simple vanilla sponge, pink vanilla buttercream, with a pink butterfly and edible pearls on the top. 
Butterfly Cupcakes

Decorate how you like – I've made everything from an Elmo theme, to flowers and garden cakes, to race car cakes and a wedding tea party for a colleague.  Some may say cupcakes have had their day, but let’s be honest, there’s nothing nicer than handing someone a little bag of cakey deliciousness!

So as I lie on the couch in a very cold and damp Scotland, at least looking at these cakes reminds me of summer days and sunshine. Why not try these for yourselves for someone special’s birthday.  I’m sure they’d go down a treat, or alternatively treat yourself, have your cake (and eat it!)

Here’s some cupcake inspiration… enjoy!
Cakes for a colleague who got married last year - office tea party
Mum's Birthday treat
Cupcakes for a Burns Night fundraiser
Ideal for Valentines, or those who hate piping!
Butterfly cupcakes for a fundraising dinner for TCCL(or great for a wedding)