Baking notes: Coffee & Walnut cake

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So coffee and walnut cake was the bake of this week!

It came out pretty well, but once again the baking time was waay longer than it said in the recipe – another 20 minutes on top of the 40 it was supposed to have, so an hour in total.

I’m also a little unsure about the icing. The icing in the recipe was a cream cheese icing rather than a traditional buttercream. I don’t quite get the idea of cream cheese icing for coffee and walnut cake. I think it’s fine with carrot cake – I’m used to having it then. But with coffee and walnut, I think you want a proper coffee flavoured icing too. The recipe for the icing basically instructed you to beat a lot of cream cheese with some sugar. I did this, and then also attempted to add some coffee flavouring by mixing a little instant coffee with some water and then adding that to the mix. I can’t say it really added any flavour. Neither did the sugar specified in the recipe to be honest. The icing just tasted like cream cheese which just seems odd to me. Next time I’ll be doing the more traditional buttercream, coffee flavoured finish!

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Baking notes: Peanut butter brownies

More baking has taken place. I’m gearing up for a party you see. We have a BBQ coming up towards the end of July for S’s birthday. We did this last year and it was great fun. Without thinking much of it, last year I made brownies and a Victoria sponge cake as deserts. They rather unexpectedly went down a storm. Being the people-pleaser that I am, this has actually made me feel pressured to top or at least equal my baking effort this year.

So, I’ve been trying to work out a good way of doing peanut butter brownies. I’ve seen various recipes on the web, but to be honest they all sound like a bit of a faff to me, and I hate faff. I don’t think I’ve seen any that don’t involve doing things like taking brownies out of the oven part way through cooking to smear peanut butter on top and then putting them back – how does that work?!

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After a fair bit of mulling it over, I decided to just have a bash at adapting the recipe for plain brownies that I normally used. All I did was whack about 200g of crunchy peanut butter into the pan along with the usual chocolate and butter, allowing it all to melt before mixing with eggs and flour.

Once the brownies were cooked I did attempt a kind of peanut topping by putting some peanut butter on top and then putting the brownies back in the over for another 10 minutes.

I didn’t exactly get it right I don’t think. The result isn’t bad. It doesn’t taste bad – in fact it tastes of peanut butter and chocolate (no surprises there then). But I think next time I need to remember the following:

  • It will probably work better not to melt the peanut butter completely. I might try stirring it into the mixture after the chocolate has been melted and added to the flour and eggs, rather than putting it in the pan with the chocolate.
  • Allow extra cooking time because of the additional amount of mixture made by adding the peanut butter. Or possibly substitute some of the chocolate for the peanut butter
  • Topping…well actually I’m still not sure what the best way is for that…any ideas?

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Baking notes: Lemon drizzle cake

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When I get the chance (which is not very often sadly) I like to do a little bit of baking. I usually keep it pretty simple. I have a small repertoire of tried and tested favourites that I come back to over an over – chocolate brownies, Victoria Sponge, sultana scones, cupcakes – that sort of thing.

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I have a bit of a battle with my oven when baking large cakes.¬†Quite often I’ll find that the top of the cake cooks before the middle does, and it seems to take a loooong time for things to cook all the way through, meaning that I have to put foil over the cake to stop the top burning before the middle is cooked!

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This weekend, as we had S’s parents visiting us on Sunday I thought I’d break out the hand whisk and have a go at a lemon drizzle cake. Happily, it came out pretty near perfect! No idea what I did right this time really – I used the same recipe as last time, but the cake seemed to cook much more quickly and evenly. Possibly I had the oven shelf higher up, though you’d think that would make it cook more quickly on the outside only. It might also have been that I used a slightly bigger tin – but then I only have 2 rectangular cake tins, and I think they’re pretty much the same size. The only thing I know for sure that I did differently this time is to use self raising flour instead of plain flour and baking powder.

Well, whatever it was it worked. So my small notes to myself for next time I bake this are:

  • Use self-raising flour
  • Place cake on top shelf of oven
  • Bake for 45 minutes then use kitchen foil to cover the top of the cake
  • Bake for a further 15 minutes until done

I don’t know if this will be any use to anyone else, but I hope it might be – if nothing else hopefully next time I try this cake I’ll remember to look back at this post. Putting foil over the top of the cake to stop it burning has to be my biggest baking tip – do you have any baking tips or tricks that always work for you?

p.s. the recipe I used is from this book – British Baking by Oliver Peyton

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