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Carrot cake muffins

Hello!

It has been a very long time, I am afraid that I have neglected my blog for the past few months. The reason being (and it is a very good reason indeed), I have become a student! This means that my blog about cooking has been suffering as I have been mostly living on pasta, bacon and Heinz baked beans and tomato soup, and I am sure that you would not be interested in learning how to heat soup up in a microwave.

I am now however the proud member of a baking club! It is a very good deal, I pay about 2 pounds a week and they provide all the ingredients, utensils, ovens, etc. It is all done in the university kitchen so it is really nice! I have done a few things there all ready like apple pie, cupcakes and gingerbread but unfortunately, did not think to share it with you. I am just on a break now after my exams so I am back in La Belle France making the most of my gas hobs, giant oven and dad’s KitchenAid that he got for Christmas, I REALLY want a KitchenAid! I will only be able to have one though sadly once I have my own flat. It is the first thing I will have in my imaginary future kitchen… One day…

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Anyway, I am going to show you a new recipe now that I found in a magazine, it is from The Great British Bake Off (for Comic Relief). Introducing Carrot cake muffins! I may have made a few hiccups along the way, for example instead of using shredded bran cereal I raided my mums cereal cupboard and used her Fruit and Fibre, I think the raisins that came with that add a nice taste but she was not very impressed. Also my ones do not look a lot like the picture they used in the magazine, because of the filling it looks like they have some odd growths on the side of them so for the sake of presentation I have selected only the finest of the batch for my photoshoot.

Carrot Cake Muffins

Ingredients

75g/ 2 1/2oz shredded bran cereal

225ml/8fl oz milk

zest of 1 medium orange

120g/4 1/4oz cream cheese

1 level tbsp caster sugar

3 large carrots

125g/4 1/2oz light brown muscovado sugar

200g/7oz self raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

1 1/2oz level tsp of ground cinnamon

1 level tsp ground ginger

2 eggs

4 tbs sunflower oil

Recipe

1 Put the bran cereal and the milk into a big bowl, like a giant bowl of cereal, and stir it around to mix. Leave it for 15 minutes to soak. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

2. Tip half of the orange zest into the big bowl of cereal, mix it and put to one side. Mix the cream cheese, caster sugar and the remaining orange zest in a smaller bowl, this is the lovely filling.

3. Peel the carrots and, using the coarse-hole side of the grater, grate onto a board. Weigh out 150g of carrot and add it to the large bowl.

4. Add the brown sugar to the big bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger but avoid mixing them in for now.

5. Break the eggs into another bowl and add the oil. Beat with a fork until the egg yolks and egg whites are mixed together. Then tip it into the big bowl and mix everything together with a wooden spoon.

6. Using a medium-sized spoon, drop a dollop of the mixture into each paper muffin case in the tray. Drop a smaller spoonful of the cream cheese filling into the middle then cover the filling with more carrot mixture.

7. Place in the heated oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Check that they are cooked by gently pressing the centre of a muffin with your finger, it should spring back when ready.

8. Remove the tray from the oven and leave for 5 minutes. Then place the muffins on a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container and eat within 24 hours.

Hope you like it!

Meggy x

Carrot muffins

Blondies, by Nigella Lawson

You may have been expecting a Valentine’s day recipe but, due to my boyfriend not being on school holidays yet, I am celebrating it next week instead and I will be cooking a 3 course meal and lots and lots of cakey snacky things to eat in front of a nice romantic film. Be sure not to miss that future post, either everything will go wrong or only a few things will.

These little treats are simply divine. Think of a brownie, then imagine it not brown and with oats et voila! Les Blondies! Nigella Lawson says that she came up with the name after baking some brownies then, a few days later, some of these. When I first made these we were amazed at how tasty they are, they’re everyone’s favourite cakey snack, even better than brownies! I have been meaning to show them to you, dear readers, for a while but I kept getting sidetracked. Once, I even got all the ingredients out and started weighing them, before realising that I was 150 grams short of oats. So FINALLY I have managed to make a batch, I highly recommend these to everyone, they are just so gorgeous.

Ingredients

200 g of oats, not instant

100 g of plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

150 g of soft, unsalted butter

100 g of light muscovado sugar

1 x 397 g of condensed milk (my boyfriend has a strange fetish for this ingredient and insists on licking the can out when I’ve finished with it, which I find quite disgusting as condensed milk is good but mixed with other things, not by itself)

1 egg

1 x 170 g packet dark choccy chips

Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a 23 cm cake tin or a foil tray, approximately 30 x 20 x 5 cm with foil.

2. Combine the oats, flour and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.

3. In another bowl, beat or mix the soft butter with sugar until pale and airily creamy, then beat in the condensed milk followed by the oats, flour and bicarb mixture.

4. When these are well mixed, beat in the egg, then fold in the choccy chips.

5. Pour, or spoon, the mixture into your tin or tray and smooth it down. Cook in the pre heated oven for about 35 mins. When it’s ready it will be dark gold around the edges and coming away from the tin. It might seem squidgy underneath but fear not, this is normal. Leave in the tin until it’s firm then put it on a wire rack to cool. When it’s cool cut it up into squares, then devour it.

By the way, this lovely cake stands can be found on the Etsy shop Tour de Force, click on the link or on the button in my sidebar.

Meggy x

Sandra’s Gateau au Poire

My mum goes to her friends house once a week where they sew, drink tea and eat cake. Last week she came back raving about a cake that her friend had made and wanted me to make it. It’s a chocolate cake with pears, it’s a very very easy to make and it was very nice, it’s quite dry on the outside but nice and gooey on the inside. The recipe is a bit odd, the mesurements are in tablespoons,  it’s made with an entire packet of baking powder (about 11 grams) and only a tablespoon and a half of flour, I was very skeptical but followed the recipe and it worked!

This cake is perfect for when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.

Ingredients

3 eggs

6 tablespoons of caster sugar

1 and a half tablespoons of plain flour (I know it seems odd but trust me)

1 packet (11 g) of baking powder

150 g of dark chocolate

100 g of butter

a can of tinned pears, drain the juice first

A 20 cm cake tin

Preperation

1. Heat the oven to 190 C/400 F/Gas mark 6 then grease your cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan and while it’s melting beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl.

3. Add the baking powder and flour, still mixing, then add the melted butter and chocolate. Make sure everything is mixed together properly and then pour into the cake tin.

4. Put the pears ontop of the mixture, if they sink don’t worry, then put the cake tin in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Check after 40, just to be on the safe side.

5. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then take it out of the cake tin, sliding a palette knife round the edges if it’s stuck, leave to cool for a little longer, then serve with a good cuppa tea.

Meggy x

Rice Krispie brownies

My friends 18th birthday was on friday and naturally I was excited for her, though she didn’t seem to be. She doesn’t have many friends and is an orphan that lives with her boyfriend so she wasn’t really expecting much out of it, although she did say she was  going to go hunting and then have a birthday dinner with the hunters which, by the way was not invited to (the dinner, not the hunting) even though I am one of her closest friends which everyone else found very strange but I’m sure she had her reasons. Anyway, bad luck struck and she injured her knee in our sports class and ended up with a cast around her knee so the hunting trip was nearly canceled, but she went and ended up lying in a bush with a gun for the entire thing. I felt sorry for her because you’re supposed to have a fuss made of you for your 18th so I asked our friends at school if they wanted to throw a little surprise party. Our master plan was that on monday when we came in to school we would pretend to forget it had been her birthday and act like normal then, at lunchtime, we go outside and surprise her with a cake, sweets and “Champomi” (fake champagne for kids, basically fizzy apple juice). I was of course in charge of the cake and I wanted to make a batch of Blondies, brownies but made with condensed milk and oats instead of chocolate, but unfortunately we had not got enough oats… What had we got then? Well my mum had bought 2 huge boxes of Rice Krispies even though no one in the house likes them and so I decided to some classic Rice Krispie Brownies.

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter

5 x 15ml tablespoons (75g) golden syrup

150g good quality milk chocolate, chopped

50g good quality dark chocolate, chopped

150 g Rice Krispies

150g milk chocolate morsels or chips (or use half dark and half white choccy chips)

1 x 23cm square cake tin or 1 x foil tray approx 30 x 20 x 5cm

Preperation method

  • Line your tin with foil or get out a barbecue foil tray
  • Put the butter, golden syrup and chopped chocolates (not the chips) in a heavy based and fairly wide saucepan and melt over a low heat
  • Stir to mix the glossy mixture, take it of the heat, then quickly, pour and stir in the Rice Krispies
  • Still off the heat, quickly stir in the chocolate chips (I realised that you needed to do this very quickly so that they didn’t melt) and spoon the mixture into the tin.
  • Put in the fridge to set for about 4 hours before cutting

I didn’t have all the right chocolate for this but it was still absolutely gorgeous. I used 100g of dark chocolate, 100g of milk choccy chips, 100g of white choccy chips and some cocoa powder (not too much though I was scared it would make the mixture dry).

Everything went brilliantly until the next day when I triumphantly took the cake into school and then received a message from the birthday girl saying that she wasn’t coming in… Luckily I had put it in a Tupperware container but I was still worried as the Rice Krispie brownies should really be kept in the fridge. I left it in the locker overnight and the next day it was still there and hadn’t melted, but the (by now pretty annoying) birthday girl still wasn’t there, another day went by and in the end we decided to eat the cake and drink the fake champagne before they spoilt. Needless to say that my friend wasn’t very happy when she found out but hey, she shouldn’t’ have skipped school!

Meggy x

Coconut and cherry banana bread

This cake may not be the prettiest cake in the world but it sure tastes nice! As the chef, Nigella Lawson, herself says in the recipe book Kitchen “to look at, I grant you, this is not a joyous creation, but it’s damp and luscious taste is all the more heightened for being unforseen” I just love the way she talks, everything sounds so amazing! It is a very simple cake that has a brilliant taste and it also leaves hardly any washing up as everything is mixed in the same pan!

Ingredients

125g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing

4 small-medium bananas (approx. 500g with the skin on)

150g of caster sugar

2 eggs

175g plain flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g of dried cherries

100g of desicated coconut

1 x 900g (2lb) loaf tin

Preperation

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C/gas mark 3. Put a loaf liner in your tin, or just line the bottom with baking parchment and grease the sides.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, take off the heat and leave to cool. Peel and mash the bananas in another bowl.

3. Beat the sugar into the cooled, melted butter, then beat in the bananas and the eggs. Fold in the flour, baking powder, and bicarb. Finally, add the dried cherries and coconut.

4. Fold well so that everthing is incorporated, then pour and scrape into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top.

5. Bake for 5o mins, but check after 45. When it’s ready, the cake will be coming away from the sides of the tin and will be bouncy on top. Leave it in the tin for 10 mins before transfering to a wire rack to cool.

Yummy yummy!

Meggy x

Chocolate digestive cheesecake with white icing

Another recipe that my Nan picked out over Christmas! This cake is very easy to make however, I have a few suggestions to make to Miss Lorraine. The biscuit base is very crumbly and she only puts it in a room to chill for 2 hours, which didn’t work. It was still quite runny and tasted too cheesy, but when I left the half that hadn’t been eaten in the fridge overnight the next day it was gorgeous! As you can see though the white chocolate design didn’t go as planned but I think it gives it a nice homemade look!

Ingredients

400g of chocolate digestives (I don’t think that 50g less would hurt though) crushed into fine crumbs

75g of butter, melted and cooled slightly

4 x 200g tubs cream cheese

icing sugar, to taste (I used about 25g)

400g milk chocolate (at least 35% cocoa solids), or a mixture of 300g milk and 100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

1 tsp of vegetable oil

100g white chocolate

23cm springform tin

piping bag with a very small nozzle

Preperation

1. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted and cooled butter squeezing them together with the back of a wooden spoon until everything is well incorporated. Put the biscuits in the springform tin and use something flat to make it nice and flat. (At this point Lorraine just leaves the biscuits but I think I would put them in the fridge while the filling is being made.)

2. Put the cream cheese and icing sugar together in a bowl and mix together gently. This should only take a few turns of the spoon.

3. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, make sure the bowl doesn’t toch the water. You can also simply melt the chocolate in the microwave. Pour about a quarter of the chocolate into a jug, add the oil and put to the side. Before this is used again put it in the microwave for 20 seconds to warm it up a bit again, if you don’t have a microwave put a tea towl over it to keep warm.

4.  Add a large dollop of the cream cheese mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Keep adding the cream cheese mixture, one dollop at a time, mix it like mad until the mixture until the chocolate mixture begins to look smooth and silky. At this point, tip all of the cream cheese mixture into the chocolate mixture and mix together until everything is completely incorporated.

5. Tip the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth the top.  Put the cheesecake in the fridge for 20 minutes or until the chocolate at the top is beginning to firm up a little.

6. Five minutes before the cheesecake is ready, melt the white chocolate and make sure the jug of milk chocolate is nice and runny. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and quickly pour the milk chocolate ontop of it until it is completely covered. Now drizzle white chocolate lines across the top about 2cm apart so you have a grid. Using a cocktail stick drag it across the white lines (this is how Lorraine does it but you can do whatever you want). Leave the cheesecake in the fridge for 2 hours.

Meggy x

Black Beer Gingerbread

Last night we saw my heroine, Nigella Lawson, on the TV and she was doing a Christmas episode! She was throwing a cocktail for her glamorous friends in her beautiful house that was covered in fairy lights, and was making lots of snacky things to serve. She also made candles out of apples and cucumber which was (as she admitted) quite crazy but I liked it. One of the snacks she made was Black beer gingerbread, it looked very nice and my mum and I were drooling in front of the screen, you could almost smell the spices… So I made decided to make it!

Of course nothing goes smoothly in my kitchen. The first thing that I had trouble with were the measurements, which is in cups, but I soon got used to it.  Then I NEARLY forgot the golden syrup, so mum, who had been waiting for my mistake, swooped in and tried to take over. But everything was soon under control and the mixture was put in the oven.

Here is a picture of my gingerbread (that I tried to make look just like Nigella’s with the reindeer, snow and trees)! It is very nice! Even my boyfriend who doesn’t like spices likes it!

 

Ingredients

10 tablespoons of butter, plus some for greasing

1 cup of golden syrup

1 cup of dark brown sugar (packed) + 2 tablespoons

1 cup of stout

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoons of ground cloves

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 ¼ cups of sour cream

2 eggs

1 rectangular aluminium foil pan, approximately 13 by 9 inches

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/ 325 Fahrenheit and grease your foil pan
  2. Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan and melt gently over a low heat
  3. Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking powder. You will need to get rid of any lumps
  4. Whisk the sour cream and eggs together then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again for a smooth batter.
  5. Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes, when it’s ready it will be gleamingly risen at the centre, and coming away from the pan at the sides.
  6. Let the gingerbread cool before cutting it into slices or squares.

Meggy x

Killer shortbread cake

This weekend I decided to make some chocolate shortbread biscuits with my boyfriend, I thought they’d be nice and pretty for the blog and we were going to make the biscuits in heart shapes ♥ I chose my recipe on bbc Good food (www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1272633/double-chocolate-shortbreads) and thought it sounded simple enough, there were only 2 steps. I made the dough, easy, wrapped it in cling-film and chilled it in the fridge for an hour, no problemo, but then… DISASTER!!!! When I got it out of the fridge it was so hard that I could have killed somebody with it! I left it for 15 minutes hoping it would become soft but it didn’t so I had to ask my mum for help… Yes, my mum fixes all my cooking disasters, or tries to. She got out the Magimix, which I think she’s had since before I was born, and put all the frozen dough inside, then she whirred it around a bit, added some water and we ended up with a very gooey mixture which I could definitely not roll out and cut into heart shapes. We got a pie dish and poured the mixture in, then put it in the oven for 30 minutes. The result tasted nice and chocolatey but it was the dryest cake I think I have ever tasted in my life, it was so dry that we had trouble swallowing it! That didn’t stop my sister and my boyfriend who managed to eat a quarter of it before giving in and admitting defeat!

What went wrong? Well, after some fierce interrogation my mum realised that I had put light brown sugar into the mixture instead of brown caster sugar… I had no idea that it would make such a difference!

So I’ve learned my lesson about sugar and I hope it’s a mistake I won’t be making again! Here is a picture of the dryest cake in the world, possibly fatal if too big a chunk is attempted to be devoured…

Meggy x

Yummy New York Cheesecake

You would think that France, being famed for its food, would have an enormous amount of ingredients in its supermarkets but alas, it is not so. The closest we can get to double cream (which I absolutely ADORE by the way) is “Chantilly” which comes in a can and you spray it on your food, which is not double cream at all. My mum started to lust after cheesecake after seeing it on tv and getting nostalgic about our home country and she asked me to make some, so I started trying to find a recipe. I was very disappointed because all of my favourite chefs use double cream in their cheesecake recipes so I started to despair but then my mum found a recipe that uses cream cheese and no double cream! However it did say that you need sour cream, which is also not available over here but sour cream is luckily very simple to make, and the digestive biscuits can be found in the “English aisle” along with PG tips and Heinz baked beans, unfortunately the price is much higher than in England as they are imported but it is impossible to use French biscuits because they would simply soak up all the liquid coming out of the cake and fall apart.

Anyway, this recipe might not be made with double cream but it is the best cheesecake I have ever tasted (if I do say so myself).

First of all, some quick tips : Keep everything at room temperature and be careful about mixing the ingredients! Under-beating can lead to a lumpy mixture, over-beating can whip in too much air.

Ingredients:

For the crust

(If you prefer a thick crust, which I do, add a quarter of each ingredient for the crust)

  • 85ml butter melted, plus extra for tin
  • 140g digestive biscuits , made into fine crumbs
  • 1 tbsp sugar, granulated or golden castor

For the cheesecake filling

  • 3 x 300g/11oz pack full fat soft cheese
  • 250g golden castor sugar
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
  • 284ml carton soured cream

For the sour cream

  • 142ml carton soured cream
  • 1 tbsp golden castor sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

If you can’t get sour cream simply use natural yogurt with some lemon juice in it instead.

Preperation:

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with parchment paper. For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.
  2. For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C/conventional 240C/gas 9. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle twice.
  3. Swap the paddle attachment for the whisk. Continue by adding the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping the bowl and whisk at least twice. Stir the 284ml carton of soured cream until smooth, then measure 200ml/7fl oz (just over 3⁄4 of the carton). Continue on low-speed as you add the measured soured cream (reserve the rest). Whisk to blend, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.
  4. Brush the sides of the springform tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling – if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife – the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C/conventional 110C/gas 1⁄4 and bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that’s creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.
  5. Combine the reserved soured cream with the 142ml carton, the sugar and lemon juice for the topping. Spread over the cheesecake right to the edges. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  6. Run a round-bladed knife around the sides of the tin to loosen any stuck edges. Unlock the side, slide the cheesecake off the bottom of the tin onto a plate, then slide the parchment paper out from underneath.

This really is an amazingly gorgeous cake, and it is very filling, so it is ideal for when you have friends round to help you out!

Meggy x