Lemon and Ginger Chocolate Brownies

This weekend, I had one of those days where I was just completely exhausted and done with everything. I was wound up about a couple of different things, and as a result I kind of just broke down. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has days like that! In my experience, you just have to let it happen and try to be kind to yourself and do things that make you happy.

To me, that’s baking brownies.

I had the idea for these lemon and ginger brownies for a while now, ever since I first tasted what’s become a new favourite chocolate bar, which (unsurprisingly) featured … lemon and ginger. After tasting (and loving) that flavour combination I thought: “I’m sure that’d work amazing in a brownie.”

And I was right! These brownies may look like regular ol’ brownies (which are pretty freaking good as well), but they do indeed feature ground ginger and the zest of a lemon – it adds a great kick to an already delicious brownie!

Oh, and I’m feeling fine again, by the way. It must have been all that chocolate…

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Lemon and Blueberry Blondies

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.

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Nectarine Blueberry Lemon Sponge

This week, the nectarines were on sale at my local supermarket (a kilo for one euro), so of course I took advantage of that! When me and my friends made sangria on Friday, we added one nectarine, which was very tasty, and I figured I could use some of the rest of them for a nice, summery cake.

I settled on a sponge, and decided to add some blueberries and lemon juice as well (as I still had a lemon lying around). This was my first bake since my vacation started, and you have no idea how much fun it was to have all the time in the world for this recipe! I just sat behind my computer with a cup of tea this morning and scrolled through some recipes to get inspiration. Then I slowly figured out the best ingredients and amounts, and after some fine-tuning I went to the supermarket to get the last few ingredients and got to baking after lunch. I took my time. It was wonderful.

About an hour ago I took the first bite of this sponge and it is so delicious! I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do if you decide to make it. It made my day, perhaps it’ll make yours!

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You’ll need…

– 100 g butter

– 100 g white caster sugar

– 2 eggsP1010162

– 100 g plain flour

– ½ teaspoon baking powder

– ¼ teaspoon vanilla flavouring

– 2½ tablespoon lemon juice

– 2 nectarines, diced (not too small, though!)

– 100 g blueberries

optional, for decoration: another nectarine, a few extra blueberries and some lemon zest

– a springform tin (20 cm)

– parchment paper

– and an oven, of course! This sponge needs to be baked at 180 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)

So, let’s get baking!

1. Mix together butter and sugar First of all, you need to mix the butter and the sugar together, until it’s nice and fluffy. As you guys might know, I usually melt my butter, but I didn’t do so this time (it was soft, though).

2. Add eggs and half of the flour Next up, add the eggs one by one. Also add half of the flour while adding the eggs, and mix eveything together. I used a spoon for this, by the way, but you could use a whisk or handheld electric mixer as well. I wouldn’t use a free-standing mixer though, since this batter needs a lot of air in it.

3. Add rest of flour, baking powder, vanilla and lemon juice Now, you need to fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder, the vanilla flavouring and the lemon juice (I used a fresh lemon for this). You have to stir all this together well, and make sure as much air as possible gets into the mixture.

P10101654. Add the fruit! The last thing you need to do is add the blueberries and the diced nectarines to your mixture, and mix them through it. You’ll probably get all hungry now because of the rich scent of the nectarines. Yummy!

5. Bake the sponge Line the base of your springform tin with some parchment paper, and grease the tin as well. Now it’s time to pour your batter into the tin and smooth it out before putting it in the oven. The sponge needs to be baked for about 30 minutes. It should be slightly golden brown on top, and an inserted skewer should come out clean (except if you hit a blueberry or nectarine of course).

Let the cake cool for a while before taking it out of the tin. If you want, you can decorate it like I did for picture taking or presenting purposes, but it tastes incredible without it as well!

And that’s it for this Nectarine Blueberry Lemon Sponge! I hope you enjoy!

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An Easter Carrot Cake (with pecans)

Happy Easter everyone! How was your day? Lots of chocolate, I suppose?

What with Easter being a perfect holiday for delicious baked goods, I figured I had to bake something scrumptious this weekend. My mind went immediately to a carrot cake, a bake I’d never made before and seemed perfect for Easter. I think the thought process went something like “carrot – rabbits – Easter bunny”, although that didn’t happen deliberately.

Anyway, on Saturday morning I browsed through some of my baking books and the internet and eventually I put together my own recipe, for what I thought would make a delicious carrot cake with pecans and a nice lemon-y frosting.

It was very easy to make and came out absolutely wonderful! The cake has a beautiful texture and a nice cinnamon taste which is complemented in a lovely way by the frosting, which has a hint of lemon. If you want the cinnamon taste to be less dominant, just use a bit less cinnamon (obvious, eh?) or perhaps a bit more ginger for a more ginger-y taste.

I am very proud of how this cake turned out, I hope you’ll like it too if you decide to make it!

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You’ll need…For the cake (approx. 10 servings)

– 3 eggs

– 150 ml sunflower/vegetable oil

– 100 g white sugar

– 100 g light brown sugar

– 1 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring

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– 2 teaspoons of baking powder

– a pinch of salt

– 1,5 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

– 0,5 teaspoon of ground ginger

– 165 g grated carrots

– 50 g chopped pecans

For the frosting:

– 200 g cream cheese

– 1 tablespoon of buttermilk

– 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring

– 220 g icing sugar

– zest of half a lemon

Also:

– a springform tin (22 cm)

– parchment paper

– and an oven, of course! This cake needs to be baked at 175 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)

So, let’s get baking!

1. Mix together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla First of all, you need to beat together the eggs and the sunflower (or vegetable) oil, and then add the two types of sugar and the vanilla flavouring and mix until everything is evenly mixed. I just used a whisk for everything.

2. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger Next up, you’ll have to add the flour and the baking powder and mix it through, and do the same with the salt, the cinnamon and the ginger. As I said above, you can adjust the amounts of cinnamon and ginger to your taste.

3. Add carrots and pecans Now, stir in the grated carrots and then also add the chopped pecans. Mix everything until your mixture is nice and smooth, which shouldn’t be too difficult; such an easy recipe, and so delicious!

P10100294. Prepare the tin and bake the cake Line the base of your springform tin with parchment paper and grease and flour the entire tin. Then pour in the mixture for your cake. You’ll probably won’t have to smooth anything because the mixture is quite runny. Put your cake into the preheated oven and bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check the cake after the first 35 minutes by inserting a skewer; if it comes out wet you’ll need to bake the cake a bit longer. If that’s the case, just check again after 5 extra minutes of baking.

5. Make the frosting After your cake has cooled you can coat it with the frosting, which you prepare by mixing the cream cheese, buttermilk and vanilla flavouring together with an electric mixer, after which you gradually mix the icing sugar through it. Then add the zest of about half a lemon. Just gradually add the zest and taste after mixing if you think it’s right!

And that’s all to make this delicious easter carrot cake! Enjoy!

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I had quite a bit of frosting left over since I don’t usually use a lot of frosting (and it was just too much), so I whipped up a small batch of cupcakes to coat with the remaining lemon frosting. I decorated them with the limited edition of Easter M&M’s.

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The One Where I Try to Make Meringues

Yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to try and make meringues for the first time ever. I was staying with my parents, and they had friends coming over, so some meringues would make a nice treat to go with a cup of coffee, I figured. I looked up a nice recipe on the internet, and went to buy the ingredients, full of enthusiasm.

However, back home again I was feeling lazy — I had homework to do, and there was ice skating on the telly (the Netherlands are kicking butt at the Olympics, and I’m loving it), so I decided to wait until the next day to make them.

I hadn’t read the recipe carefully, though, and when I’d already grated my lemon this morning I found out the meringues needed to bake for an hour and a half and cool over night. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that, right? I thought about giving up (I didn’t feel like going through all the fuss anyway, I had other things to do as well) but decided it would be a waste of the lemon zest, so I looked up a second recipe to see how they dealt with the baking and the cooling. I found a recipe that said to bake the merginues for 2 hours and then let them just cool for a little while, and I got back to the meringue-making.

I eventually never got to the baking part, though, because I got bored and annoyed way before that. After wasting two eggs because they wouldn’t split right, and mixing it together with the sugar and the lemon zest it was time to get the electric mixer out and whisk as if my life depended on it.

And I got bored. It took to long for my liking and I think I did something wrong because there was no change to be seen in my sticky sugar-egg-lemony mixture.

So, this is a historic moment for Books Baking and Blogging: my first (documented) failure! It had to happen some time, right?

I’ll try again in a little while, when I’m not grumpy and swamped with homework. I hope your baking endeavors were a bit more succesful this weekend!

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

I love lemon. I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite flavour for just about anything: sweets, ice cream, tea… It’s also a great flavour to add to things like salmon or chicken. And then, of course, you’ve got the baked goods. If you go back through the recipes I’ve posted on here you’ll notice I add a bit of lemon juice to just about anything.

One of my favourite recipes is this Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe. I’ve made it a few times before, and it always comes out great. It’s completely infused with this wonderful lemon-y taste that makes it taste absolutely delicious. It’s really easy to make and an excellent treat to go with a nice cup of (lemon) tea.

This was also the first time I used the electric mixer I bought just before Christmas! A few weeks before Christmas I realised I didn’t own an electric mixer, which is quite inconvenient when you bake as much as I do. That’s what you get when you move out of your parents house; you realise you don’t have the most basic things, even over a year after you’ve moved out. I had another one of those moments yesterday, when I realised I didn’t have a grater… Luckily I could borrow one from my landlady!

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You’ll need…

– 200 g plain flour

– 40 g cornflour

– 2 teaspoons of baking powder

– 140 g sugar (granulated, white)

– a pinch of salt

–  3 eggs

– 125 g butter (softened or melted)

– 1 lemon

– 4 tablespoons of icing sugar

– a cake/loaf tin

– a grater

– a juicer

– an electric mixer

– and an oven, of course! This cake needs to be baked at 180 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)

So, let’s get baking!

1. Grate and squeeze the lemon Let’s start with making sure all the parts of the lemon are ready for use. Grate the lemon zest above a little bowl or plate or whatever you like. When there’s no zest left to grate anymore, cut the lemon into two halves, and squeeze all the juice out of them with the juicer.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together With that out of the way, you can now start to prepare the batter. Mix the flour, the cornflour, the baking powder, the salt, and the sugar (not the icing sugar!) together in a bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients and mix together Now it’s time to add the wet ingredients: add the eggs, the butter and the lemon zest to the mixture. You also have to add the lemon juice, but make sure you leave out 2 tablespoons of the juice because you’ll need that for the drizzle. Use electric beaters to mix everything together until it’s nice and smooth.

4. Prepare your tin and bake the cake Prepare your tin by buttering and flouring it. Next up, you pour the batter in the tin and smooth the top. Then put it into your preheated oven and bake it for 45 to 55 minutes.

When it’s done, insert a skewer to make sure if it’s really done. When I did so after 45 minutes it came out completely wet with lots of batter sticking to it (even though the top had a nice golden brown colour). However, after another 10 minutes of baking, it came out completely clean. When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for a bit.

5. Prepare the drizzle While the cake is cooling, you’ve got to prepare the drizzle. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice together with the 4 tablespoons of icing sugar.

Tip: If you want you can also leave the drizzle out. The lemon juice has a very strong taste, which I really like, but if you want a more neutral tasting (but still delicious) cake, it’s perfectly okay to not add the drizzle.

6. Add the drizzle Now that your cake has cooled down a bit (but not completely!), it’s time to add the drizzle. Poke about 8 or 10 holes in the cake with a knife or a skewer and then pour the drizzle over the cake. It’ll now infuse the cake with it’s perfect lemon-y taste.

When the drizzle has been “soaked” into the cake, take it out of the tin and let it cool completely. Or start munching right away, ’cause it tastes great when still slightly warm!

And there’s your delicious Lemon Drizzle Cake! Enjoy!

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Storm! And Minion Cake

There’s a storm going on where I live right now. A few weeks ago we had quite a big storm as well, and back then I decided to just stay inside all day. Today, however, it’s Saint Nicholas’ Eve (as you might have read about in my previous post) and I’m going over to my parents’ house to have dinner and watch a film and just spend some time together. In other words; I have to leave my house, and that’s making me uneasy.

It’s not really the storm itself that’s bothering (scaring?) me so much — it’s much more the whole fuss that’s made about it. I’m not saying the KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) is overreacting when they put out a code red; I mean, I’m sure they’re right. But code red does sound frightening, don’t you think?

I was supposed to have class at 2 pm, and had already decided not to go because, well, “eeep, scary!”, but then it got cancelled anyway because the university decided to close all its buildings for the day at 2 pm.

And I’m just sitting inside, drinking my tea, and looking out of the window every two minutes, unable to concentrate on anything.

A tiny panic attack because of loud thunder and a very loud Mr Blue Sky later…

So, what I really wanted this post to be about is the cake Jitske and I made this weekend (remember Jitske?). It was her boyfriend’s birthday last Tuesday and she wanted to make a cake for him, more specifically; a minion cake! Don’t know what minions are? I suggest you go watch Despicable Me right now, because damn, that film is amazing.

Where was I? Oh, right, Jitske wanted to make a cake looking like a minion for her boyfriend, and she asked me to help. I went over to her place on Sunday afternoon, and we spent the next four and a half hours on the most beautiful cake we ever made together. It wasn’t even done yet at that point, but I had to leave since I had promised to have dinner at my parents that evening. Our precious minion didn’t have arms and legs yet, so Jitske worked on a little bit longer and sent me a few pictures later that evening…

 

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Look at him! Isn’t he adorable? I know he isn’t as smooth and flawless as some of the cakes you can find on Google Image (those are made through sorcery, I tell you), but we’re really proud of it! And, most importantly; Jitkse’s boyfriend loved it.

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Cake before it became a minion

What with it being his present, however, I have no idea how it tasted. We didn’t use any particular “minion cake recipe” and just put some stuff together. Because the fondant is basically nothing but sugar (that’s what it tastes like, at least) we wanted the cake to taste a bit more fresh. So instead of going for a regular cake with whipped cream or butter cream in between the layers, we went for a lemon cake with lemon curd. I wish I could tell you it turned out delicious, but like I said — I don’t know.

I’m sorry if this post seems slightly haphazard but a storm like this one can really get into your head! It has died down a bit again, I think, so I’m going to see if I can catch the bus to my parents’ house now. Wish me luck!