The second week of The Great British Bake Off was Cake Week and there was drama galore! Apparently, it was a zillion degrees outside when they filmed this episode and the bakers had to temper chocolate inside the GBBO tent. Which of course went very badly.
Which made me wonder (and not for the first time)… Why on earth would you film a baking show inside a tent? There’s so much that can go wrong! It doesn’t make sense at all, but I have to admit I wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes for great television (and there’s your reason, I suspect).
Anyway! Back to Cake Week. The Signature Challenge for this week was to bake a tray bake and that had me excited straight away. Apart from the usual brownies and blondies, I don’t think I’ve ever baked a tray bake (do they count as tray bakes, anyway?) and I really wanted to give it a try!
I came up with my flavour combination during the episode already and I immediately knew it would be a winner: almond and orange always is, after all! So, I made an orange and almond sponge and added a deliciously tangy yet sweet orange cream cheese frosting on top. Yum.
Two weeks ago, it was my boyfriend’s birthday, so of course I had to bake him a cake – it’s what I do! It was also my first time baking in the new kitchen, which has lots more space and has a dishwasher (I’m still not over this – I love it so much). Naturally, I always love baking. But it’s so much more fun when I actually have the space to do it! I predict loads more recipes in the near future…
Back to Willem’s birthday cake, though! He asked for something with chocolate and red fruit, and that’s what he got. I got out my chocolate bible (it’s actually called that) and eventually came across the perfect recipe. A two-layer chocolate cake filled with strawberry jam, whipped cream and strawberries. Yum!
I made a few adjustments to the cake recipe itself and, to make it even more chocolatey, decided to cover the entire thing in chocolate ganache and add some more fruit on top. The result was delicious. The cake is lovely and light, the strawberries and cream filling is the perfect combination of sweet and fresh and the dark chocolate ganache adds that extra chocolatey kick.
And what’s even better: this cake isn’t difficult to make at all! Because it has three different components the recipe might seem long and it will take a little bit of time. But, really, the three components are all very easy to whip up. It’s the perfect birthday cake!
Oh, I’ve got a good one for you today, guys. This recipe is probably going down as one of my all time favourites. I made these cinnamon sugar blondies on Sunday, and I’ll already be making them again tomorrow.
They’re really good.
I had a casual dinner thing with a couple of my closest friends on Sunday, and I more or less promised I’d bake something and bring it with me (there was definite peer pressure involved). Since I had to take the thing I baked with me on my bike, it had to be something that couldn’t easily be smooshed, hence the blondies. Plus, I love a good blondie/brownie. They’re easy to bake, super delicious, and you can play around with the flavours endlessly.
One thing that’s still not entirely clear to me is whether blondies need white chocolate. Is white chocolate a requirement for a blondie? I don’t think it technically is, but I’m sticking with it, because it just makes sense, doesn’t it?
The cinnamon sugar is the true hero in this recipe. It really takes it up a notch and I love it a lot. Although, I must say, the pecans really add a little something too. In the middle of all the soft lovely blondie-ness, they provide a bit of a bite. Yum!
What do you do when you have an overload of berries that are threatening to go bad? Right, you bake! Or at least, that’s what I do. I bought blueberries on sale at the supermarket, but they were kind of mushy and disappointing, which made them perfect to put in a cake. Somehow, blueberries completely transform when they bake – both in taste and flavour. I also had a bowl full of fresh red currants from my parents’ garden, so I figured I’d throw some of those in, too.
At first, I didn’t really know what to bake – the first thing that came to mind were muffins, but that seemed kind of boring, since that’s pretty much always my go-to for when I have leftover fruit. Then I remembered this cake I baked years ago – a french cake called a quatre-quarts, only back then I used a whole lot of apples instead of berries. Turns out, a quatre-quarts is pretty much just a pound cake or a sponge. Who’d have thunk!
I also added a lemon drizzle to this cake, because lemon drizzles make everything better. It’s a fact. The cake turned out absolutely scrumptious – definitely a good one to have added to my repertoire! The fresh berries and lemon-y taste make it a perfect summer treat.
It was one of my friends’ birthday yesterday and, as I do with most birthday parties these days, I decided to bake something for him. When I asked him what kind of stuff he liked in baked goodies, he said “uhm, something with caramel?” And it went without saying that chocolate would be a hit as well.
Now, I’m not a huge caramel fan (although I’m starting to like it a bit more), so I’ve never baked with it, but this gave me an opportunity to try. However, I didn’t have a whole lot of time, so there was no room for mistakes – and watching a lot of Masterchef and Great British Bake Off has taught me that making caramel from scratch can easily go wrong.
In other words: I needed a short cut. And I found one! It’s a recipe from one of my favourite Dutch baking blogs – Laura’s Bakery (for all you Dutchies – go check it out, it’s cool!). All you need is some butter, dark sugar and condensed milk and you’re good to go. I explain in this recipe how you can make it, but I would definitely recommend checking out her recipe for step by step pictures, even if your Dutch is a bit rusty.
Anyway, this chocolate and caramel cake with sea salt was a big success (I even liked it!) and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out! I baked it in two 16 cm tins (so pretty small) but you can definetely use 18 cm tins as well – it’ll just come out a bit less high.
Since I don’t have a lot of experience with baking gluten-free stuff, coming up with a gluten-free baked goodie for a charity sale last week was quite a challenge! Gluten-free bakes often turn out dry and crumbly, so I figured going with a carrot cake would be a good idea – there was no way that wouldn’t turn out moist and yummy (I hoped).
I decided to use my own carrot cake recipe as a basis for this one, because it seemed very suitable – apart from the flour, of course. Then came the actual challenge: what should I use instead of said flour? I thought about using gluten-free flour, but eventually I landed on using almond meal. It adds a very subtle nutty flavour, which goes well with the spices and the carrot.
While the cake was baking in the oven, I had a moment of slight panic, when I thought this endeavor would turn into a baking fail – after 35 minutes, the cake had turned quite brown on top, but was still way too jiggly in the middle. Luckily, that could be fixed with some aluminium foil over the top of the tin, and in the end this cake turned out very moist and delicious! Its structure is a bit different from the original, but it holds together and tastes incredible. What more could I want?
Autumn has definitely arrived now in the Netherlands, and with that has come the first wave of colds and flu. Everyone seems to be ill, as was I this past week. I stayed home from class on Monday and Wednesday, and my lovely dad came over to bring me some groceries, so I could still, you know, eat. Quite important, after all.
I still wanted to bake something this week, though, but I didn’t want to make it too challenging or time-consuming, since I also had quite a lot of homework to do. So that meant the plan I had to make macarons this weekend fell through. Maybe next week!
Instead, I figured I’d make a marble bundt cake, because that seemed like fun. I didn’t want to go for the plain old vanilla and chocolate, so I soon came up with the idea of adding the almond to the batter, with some almond flavouring and some ground almonds. I also really love the combination of chocolate and orange, so I decided to go with those flavours for the two different batters.
It came out quite splendidly! It isn’t really all that marbled, at least not in these pictures, but that doesn’t really matter – it still looks cool and tastes absolutely delicious, and it’s such an easy batter to make!
About a week ago I was feeling a bit stressed and anxious (it happens sometimes), so I figured I’d do something that pretty much always helps me relax: I baked something. The weather has been changing quite rapidly for the past two weeks, and I think it’s pretty safe to say autumn has come. That’s probably why I felt like baking a nutty, cinnamon-y cake – which is what I did!
This walnut and apple cake was a spur of the moment experiment and isn’t it funny how those often turn out the best? Let me tell you, this cake is good. It’s incredibly simple to make and incredibly delicious. A new favourite? Definitely!
Spring officially started yesterday, and I couldn’t be happier about it! We had a couple of sunny days last week here in the Netherlands, and they were glorious. Biking around town without a coat on (and without getting cold, obviously) is the best feeling around this time of year. Or maybe it’s having lunch in the sun on a roof top terrace… Yep. That was definitely better than the biking.
And what better way to celebrate Spring than with a delicious, fresh and fruity baked goodie? Lemon and blueberry are perfect flavours for a sunny day, and these blondies are packed with both of them. I also added some white chocolate chips for an extra sweet little bite, but you could leave those out as well if you prefer. With or without the chocolate or the sunshine, these blondies have such a rich taste they can clear up any cloudy day.
Remember when I baked this mango tart for my father’s birthday a few weeks ago? That wasn’t enough to feed my entire family, so I had to think of a second cake to bake. The decision was easily made — I had never made a Victoria sponge cake, and figured it was high time I did so. Every baker should have a Victoria sponge in repertoire, I think. Now I finally do!
A classic Victoria sponge seems to use buttercream for the filling, but I’m not very fond of buttercream (way too buttery and creamy — the name kind of gives it away), so I decided to just use whipped cream instead. It worked perfectly! It does mean you shouldn’t make this cake too far in advance. I also added an extra little touch to the usual cream-jam combination, namely some fresh strawberries. The cake does fine without them too, but strawberries make everything better, so why not add them?
I used this recipe from BBC Good Food as the base for my recipe, but made some changes to make it my own (especially to the filling).