Sunday, 1 March 2015

Lotus Biscuit Bundt Cake

Lotus Biscuit Bundt Cake
After three years I've opted to give the cake club reins to some other organised baking type, so I decided our third birthday was the time to relinquish cakey control. It seemed right to bake a spicy bundt, just like I did for our first meeting. However, this one needed to be spruced up a little!

You know those little biscuits that come with your coffee? Those little spicy ones? They come in a plastic packet and probably have a shelf life of about a hundred years, yet people seem to love their caramelised spiciness. Look what I found in Tesco! They only do it in a spreadable version... I had to use it.

This cake is not for the faint-hearted. It's sweet, spicy, very moist and enough to induce a sugar coma if not remedied with something savoury! Saying that, it's a bit of a belter. You don't have to cover the cake in the spread, but it's an unusual addition which will have your samplers questioning whether you are in fact a witch. 

Ingredients:

    Lotus Biscoff Spread
  • 250g unsalted butter 
  • 650g golden caster sugar 
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp ginger
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • Tub of Lotus Biscoff spread

Method:
  1. Grease and flour a standard 10 inch, 2.4 litre, 10 cup bundt tin.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas 3/160 C.
  3. Mix the butter and sugar until it's well combined - there's a lot, so do it in stages.
  4. Add the beaten egg a little bit at a time until light and fluffy
  5. Add the extracts to the milk and again add to the cake batter a little at a time.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, spices, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Add the dry ingredients to the cake batter a little at a time. 
  7. Mix everything until its light and creamy looking.
  8. Pour into the prepared cake mould and level off with a quick shake of the tin. 
  9. Bake for about an hour and fifteen minutes, turning after an hour.
  10. Once cooked through leave the cake to cool in the tin fully. 
  11. When it's out of the tin, transfer the Lotus spread into a jug and warm slightly in the microwave. Just enough for it to move around of its own accord... Tip over the cake. 

Bloggers: Please respect the fact I am sharing my own ideas and basic recipe. Blood, sweat and many tears have gone into getting this right, so you may enjoy a perfect bundt. If you wish to re-blog a recipe from these variations, please credit my blog and link to this original post rather than pasting the recipe on your own page.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Peachy Keen's, Manchester

Peachy Keen's, Manchester
I have two conflicting memories of buffet style restaurants. The first was some horrific Chinese place that made me horrendously sick. That was a low point in my culinary escapades. The second is the Wynn in Las Vegas; home to toffee apples for breakfast, a wondrous place that would have brought a tear to Willy Wonka's eye.

So to Peachy Keen's. There's no apostrophe in their name, but I'm running with one because that makes me feel wholly uncomfortable. When I first received the invite to test out their Manchester restaurant, I was haunted by the Chinese buffet memory, but decided to give it a go because there was promise of a dessert bar. What can I say, I'm weak.
Peachy Keen's, Manchester
My pal Lee and I took a random Wednesday off work and headed to the bright lights of Peachy Keen's. The restaurant is upstairs in the Printworks, but from inside looks like it could be night time in Vegas rather than 2pm in drizzly Manchester. It's much bigger than I expected, and although quite subdued at lunchtime, I imagine it's a hive of activity in the evening, with several live cooking stations serving food from around the world.
Peachy Keen's, Manchester
We were a bit overwhelmed on arrival, and did a bit of an investigatory lap before committing to any single cuisine type. We obviously started with Indian - rude not to!
Peachy Keen's, Manchester
There was a game plan. Little bits of lots of things. Don't overdo it, otherwise our plan to raid the Mr Whippy machine would have been done for. We had a delicious mixture of daal, Bombay potatoes, chicken curry, rice, chutneys, naan bread and onion bhajis. A natural follow up to this was Italian... This consisted of pizza, spicy wedges, chips (don't judge us...) coleslaw, tomatoes with Mozzarella and freshly cooked carbonara from the live station.
Peachy Keen's, Manchester
Our plans to eat more were somewhat scuppered by our earlier (and costly) decision to share a pastrami toastie in Proper Tea. Like we needed that. We had to have a rest before attacking the dessert counter, but we soldiered on in the interest of food blogging. I know, total warrior-like behaviour.

I managed a mini mango cheesecake, a jelly shot (sadly not alcoholic), some apple crumble and custard and a token piece of peach. Lee fared a little better, sampling numerous Jelly babies, some marshmallows dipped in the chocolate fountain, jelly and some undisclosed cheesecake of which I have no recollection.
Peachy Keen's, Manchester
We sat there, fit to burst with our eyes on the prize... The Mr Whippy machine. I've always wanted to pull my own ice cream (watch it...). Lee went for the 'giddy kippered - pile it on' approach, whereas my inner cake decorator forced me to do the 'icing a cupcake' routine. Either way, we had a bloody good time! Move over Softy's Hard Stuff...
Peachy Keen's, Manchester
Lunch at Peachy Keen's is £7.95 per person, which is a bit of a bargain considering the variety and volume of food on offer. Unlike some buffet restaurants, the food is of a decent standard and the dining room is clean and spacious. Granted, you can get a better curry or Italian in the city, but this is a bit of fun. I have to say that it exceeded my expectations, and both of us had a cracking little afternoon.

Peachy Keens on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Toffee Choc Bundt Cake

Toffee Choc Bundt Cake
I love baking for friends. It's my favourite reason to dust off a bundt tin and concoct something new. It's what bundts are all about. A massive chuffing cake that cuts into beautifully (OCD satisfying) even slices and tastes like a little piece of heaven. Did you know... apparently bundts can cure even the worst case of 'Bad-day-itis' and are even reported to deal pretty well with mardiness, melodrama and melancholy too. Oh yes. 

When my friend Rahila invited me round for tea, I of course offered to make an accompanying cake. Her kids are huge fans of chocolate cake, but I wanted something a bit different. So, I went armed with the award winning combo of toffee and molten chocolate. Much moister than a traditional chocolate cake, this cheeky number hides a lovely ribbon of goo just below the crust, and is crowned with enough chocolate to make anyone's day.

Don't be fooled by the weight of this cake either. Yes, it's a hefty number but the crumb is soft and moist, encased by a fanfare-worthy sugar crust. Despite having almost eaten my own bodyweight in homemade chapatis, I still managed a decent wedge with a cup of tea as we put the world to rights. 

Ingredients:
  • 225g butter
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250ml toffee yoghurt 
  • 1 jar of chocolate spread 
  • Chocolate curls

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to gas 3/160 c
  2. Prepare a regular sized bundt tin - 2.4l, 10 cup, 10 inch with Cake Release spray and dust with flour.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  5. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. 
  6. Pour the yoghurt and vanilla into a jug.
  7. Sift in a third of the flour mix followed by half the yoghurt. Repeat this until everything is combined. 
  8. Give everything a quick mix on a low speed for about 10 seconds.
  9. Pour 3/4 of the mix into your prepared tin. 
  10. Dollop 5 tbsp of the chocolate spread over the mix and smooth out - avoid the edges. Because this is smooth, it will sink - this is ok!
  11. Cover with the rest of the mix.
  12. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  13. Leave the cake to cool for ten minutes before removing from the tin.
  14. When the cake is fully cooled, warm the rest of the chocolate spread in the microwave until runny, and tip over the cake like you've only got 10 minutes until you have to leave the house - incidentally, this was the case... 
  15. Scatter with chocolate curls.

Bloggers: Please respect the fact I am sharing my own ideas and basic recipe. Blood, sweat and many tears have gone into getting this right, so you may enjoy a perfect bundt. If you wish to re-blog a recipe from these variations, please credit my blog and link to this original post rather than pasting the recipe on your own page.
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