Tuesday, 30 August 2016

GBBO 2016 - Week 1 - Chocolate Pecan Mirror Glaze Cake

Bake Off is back!!! Last week the first episode aired, and it was even better than I hoped. The technical challenge were Jaffa cakes, which I obviously loved (my last post was a Jaffa cake inspired cheesecake). The showstoppers really took my breath away though - shiny delicious mirror glaze cakes. A lot of the bakers really impressed, but I particularly liked the idea of Benjamina's white chocolate and pecan mirror glaze cake. Genoise sponge layers, filled with white chocolate and pecan meringue buttercream filling, and topped with a white chocolate mirror glaze. I couldn't find a recipe for white chocolate mirror glazes, so instead made a dark chocolate one, and wow it tastes good, and looks even better. 

My decoration came from a bit of a disaster...I used a template whilst spraying gold onto the cake, and it got stuck to the glaze...to rectify, it's become a tree, and looks pretty good I think :)

Makes one 20cm cake


For the genoise sponges:

  • 40g (3 tbsp) butter, melted
  • 5 eggs
  • 165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 165g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour

For the white chocolate pecan filling:

  • (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 130g (1 stick and 1 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 20g (1 oz) white chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g (1/2 cup) chopped pecans

For the chocolate ganache crumb coating:

  • 100g (2/3 cup) milk chocolate
  • 100g (2/3 cup) dark chocolate (50% cocoa solids)
  • 150ml (2/3 cup) double cream

For the mirror glaze:

  • 1 gelatine leaf
  • 75g (3/4 cup) cocoa powder
  • 120g (5/8 cup) caster sugar
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) water
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) single cream

To decorate:

  • Edible gold spray
  • Handful of pecans, roughly chopped


1. Make the genoise sponges. Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins, and dust the base and sides with flour (I find this gives a better result than lining with baking paper).

2. Half fill a saucepan with water, place on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. In a large heat-proof bowl (large enough to sit on top of the saucepan WITHOUT touching the water), add the eggs and caster sugar. 

3. Place the bowl on the saucepan, and use an electric whisk to beat the eggs and sugar for 7 minutes, until the mixture has tripled in volume, and a trail of mixture is visible for a few seconds after lifting the whisk from the bowl. 

4. Remove the bowl from the heat. Sieve the flour into the cake mixture, one third at a time, and gently fold in using a metal spoon. Gently pour in the melted butter around the side of the mixture, and fold in.

5. Pour into the prepared cake tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Set aside to cool.

6. Make the filling. In a large heatproof bowl add the egg white, caster sugar and vanilla. Place over a saucepan of simmering water, and heat for 5-7 minutes, until either a thermometer reads 140c, or the egg mixture feels hand-hot.

7. Remove from the heat, and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. 

8. Melt the white chocolate in a microwave by heating for 10-15 second bursts, and stirring well each time.

9. Add spoonfuls of the butter mixture to the egg whites, whilst continuing to whisk. Once all of the butter has been added, pour in the white chocolate and chopped pecans, and stir in. Cover and place in the fridge to firm up for 20-30 minutes.

10. Make the crumb coating. In a saucepan heat the cream until it is bubbling. Meanwhile, chop the chocolate into chunks and tip into a bowl.

11. Once the cream is bubbling, take off the heat and pour onto the chopped chocolate. Stir until all of the chocolate has melted. Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

12. Make the mirror glaze. Soak the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes, until it is very soft.

13. Heat the sugar, water and golden syrup together in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, leave to boil for 2-3 minutes.

14. Take off the heat and add the cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth. 

15. Add the single cream, whisk in, then return to the heat for a for a minute, stirring continuously.

16. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine, and add to the saucepan. Take the pan off the heat, and whisk until the gelatine has dissolved (this should only take a few seconds). Set aside.

17. Assemble the cake. Place the first half of the cake onto a board. Add the white chocolate filling to the top of the layer, and smooth over.

18. Place the second cake layer on top of the first, and press down lightly.

19. Gently smooth the chocolate ganache all over the top and sides of the cake. The sponge is delicate so be careful not to break it. Smooth the ganache as well as much as possible.

20. Heat the mirror glaze on a low heat until it is runny. Pour over the top of the cake, and with a knife carefully work the glaze over the sides of the cake so that the top and sides are covered. Place the cake in the fridge to firm up for about 20 minutes.

21. Decorate the top of the cake with gold spray and chopped pecans.

22. Enjoy!

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Thursday, 25 August 2016

No-bake Jaffa Cheesecake

Here's a fab recipe I made the other week, which requires no baking. A chocolate cheesecake, sandwiched with a layer of homemade orange jelly, and topped with extra chocolate. YUM. It's super easy, and after seeing GBBO last night (new series!!!), I thought people might be craving these jaffa cake flavours :)

Makes one 23cm cheesecake


For the base:

  • 300g (3 cups) chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 50g (1/4 cup) melted butter

For the jelly:

  • 250ml (1 cup) fresh orange juice (from around 4 oranges)
  • 50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 3 gelatine leaves

For the filling:

  • 600g (cups) full fat cream cheese
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) dark and milk chocolate (depending on how sweet you'd like the cake to be)
  • 2tbsp icing sugar

For the topping:

  • 75g (3/4 cup) white chocolate
  • chocolate orange segments, to decorate


1. Prepare the jelly. Place the gelatine leaves in a jug of cold water (fully immersed) for 5 minutes, until they are really soft and squidgy. Meanwhile, heat the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan.

2. Once the orange/sugar liquid is bubbling, squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pan. Stir until the gelatine has melted.

3. Line a baking tray or 20cm cake base with greaseproof paper, and pour the jelly onto it. Carefully place in the fridge to set for 1-2 hours.

4. Make the base of the cheesecake. Crush the digestive biscuits to a fine crumb - this is easiest in a food processor, but if you don't have one, using the back of a rolling pin will work - it just takes a little longer.

5. Pour in the melted butter, and stir until all of the butter has been incorporated.

6. Line the base of a circular 23cm cake tin with grease-proof paper, and pour in the biscuit mixture. Level out the biscuits on the base using the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge whilst you make the filling,

7. Melt the chocolate in a large bowl in the microwave - heat for 30 second bursts (at maximum power), and stir well after each burst. Transfer 75g to another container - this will be used for the topping.

8. In a mixing bowl add the cream cheese and icing sugar, and beat briefly to combine. Add about a quarter of the cream cheese to the melted chocolate, and beat well. Once all of the cream cheese/sugar has been incorporated add the next quarter of cream cheese mixture, and stir in.

9. Add the rest of the cream cheese to the chocolate, and stir (or whisk) until the mixture is a lovely dark chocolate colour.

10. Add half of the filling onto the cheesecake base. Carefully take the jelly out of the fridge. If you haven't used the base of a 20cm cake tin, cut the jelly to that size approximately - it wants to be a little smaller than the area of the cheesecake.

11. Slide the jelly onto the cheesecake. Cover with the remaining cheesecake mixture, and level the top with the back of a spoon or palette knife.

12. Re-melt the chocolate (reserved earlier) in the microwave. In a separate bowl, melt the white chocolate - this burns very easily so heat for 15 second bursts and stir well each time it's out of the microwave.

13. Add teaspoons of the two chocolate mixtures all over the top of the cheesecake, and use a knife to marble the two mixtures together. Decorate with orange chocolate segments. Place in the fridge for about two hours to set fully.

14. Enjoy!

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Friday, 19 August 2016

Super Adaptable Refined Sugar Free Oaty Bars

These bars are super easy, delicious and you can vary the recipe with any nuts, seeds or dried fruit. You can even add chocolate if you like. They require no baking, and depending on the additional ingredients used (e.g. some dried fruits have additional sugar added), it's refined sugar-free!
I tend to add some protein powder for an extra protein boost, but it's completely optional :)

Makes 24 bars


  • 225g (1 cup) porridge oats
  • 100g peanut butter (1/4 cup) (crunchy or smooth)
  • 100g (3/4 cup) seeds
  • 50-100g (1/2 to 3/4 cup) dried fruit/ chopped nuts (I used an equal mixture of dried cranberries and apricots)
  • 225g (1 cup) honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 20g (1 heaped tbsp) vanilla protein powder (optional)


1. Melt the honey and peanut butter in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the honey is bubbling.

2. Finely process the oats in a food processor, and pour into a large mixing bowl with all the remaining ingredients.

3. Pour the honey/peanut butter into the bowl, and stir well until the dry ingredients are completely coated in the honey/peanut butter.

4. Line a 30cm x 20cm tray with cling-film, and pour the mixture onto the tray. Level the mixture out with the back of a metal spoon (it's very sticky!).

5. Cover with cling-film, and put in the freezer for one hour.

6. Cut into 24 bars, and place in a plastic tub. Keep in the fridge or freezer.

7. Enjoy!

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Raspberry Treacle Tart

Here’s a recipe I experimented with last week – a raspberry treacle tart. if you’re British, you’ve most likely come across treacle tarts, but I don’t know how well they’re known in the USA. Unlike the name suggests, there is no black treacle in the recipe – the filling consists of breadcrumbs, lemon juice and golden syrup. If you want to try this recipe out but can’t get hold of golden syrup, you could try another sticky sweetener like honey or agave syrup – the flavour won’t quite be the same but it will still be a luscious sweet treat.
To add an extra flavour dimension to the tart, I added some raspberry jam on to the base, and whole raspberries were added to the tart partway into cooking. Other berries would work amazingly as well. Also, see my tip regarding lemons if you’re not a lemon lover.

Makes 1 20cm tart


For the pastry:
  • 250g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 120g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:
  • 400g (about 1 cup) golden syrup (or equivalent sticky sweetener)
  • 150g (2 1/2 cups) breadcrumbs (white or wholemeal, your preference)
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice*
  • 100g (1/3 cup) seedless raspberry jam
  • 100g (1 cup) whole raspberries
* if you’re not a huge lemon fan, you can cut down on the lemon juice or add a different citrus element – lime would be fantastic.


1. Make the pastry. Cut the butter into small cubes (1-2cm wide), and add to a bowl containing the plain flour and salt.

2. Rub the butter into the flour. By rubbing, I mean pressing the butter cubes and flour between your first two fingers and thumb, to evenly disperse the butter through the flour.

3. Once no more lumps of butter are visible, add water one tablespoon at a time (it should only need 2-3 tablespoons). Work the dough together with your hands – as soon as it comes together in a ball stop working it or it will end up tough!

4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm, and refrigerate for 20 – 30 minutes.

5. Preheat your oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6. Grease the base of a 20cm  fluted loose-bottomed tart tin (a cake tin will also work, the sides just won’t look as pretty).

6. Roll out the dough between two sheets of clingfilm, until it is about 1/2cm thick, and if you place the base of the tart tin on the dough, there is at least 3cm extra dough still visible around it.

7. Carefully transfer the dough to the tart tin –  trim off any excess dough. If you get any cracks, fill them in with the spare dough. Prick the base of the tart with a fork – this prevents the dough from rising whilst baking.

8. Spread on the raspberry jam over the base of the tart.

9. Make the filling. In a saucepan heat together the golden syrup, breadcrumbs, lemon* juice and zest. Once the golden syrup has melted and the breadcrumbs are evenly mixed through, pour onto the tart base.

10. Bake the tart for 10 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 180c/350F/gas mark 4. 

11. Bake for another 10 minutes.

12. Scatter the raspberries across the top of the tart and return the tart to the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the filling looks set and the pasty looks to be browning.

13. Remove the tart from the oven and leave to one side for the filling to fully set. The tart is delicious served warm or cold.

14. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Rhubarb and Peach Cheesecake

Long time no see! I’ve been away for a few weeks in the south of france, but finally am back to share with you all a recipe I baked whilst over there. This cheesecake is tangy from rhubarb, but topped with ripe nectarines to give a juicy kick. Seriously yum, and a perfect dessert after a hot day on the beach (or a day in rainy England…)
Also, apologies for the not-so-great photo :( I was having to use my phone rather than my actual camera...

Makes 1 23cm cheesecake

For the base:
  • 150g digestive biscuits or other biscuits of your desire (such as shortbread, gingernuts etc)
  • 80g butter
  • 50g demerara sugar

For the filling:
  • 50g butter
  • 175g granulated sugar
  • 450g medium fat cream cheese
  • 25g plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml double cream, lightly whipped
  • Half a jar (about 150g) rhubarb jam
  • 5-6 ripe peaches or nectarines, de-stoned and sliced into 1cm half-moons


1. Preheat your oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Lightly grease the bottom of a 23cm springform cake tin.

2. Crush the biscuits into a bowl, using a rolling pin or a food processor. In a saucepan melt the butter, and add this and the demerara sugar to the crushed biscuits. Beat until all of the butter has been incorporated. 

3. Pour into the base of the cake tin, and level out evenly using the back of a spoon.

4. Make the filling. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, cream cheese and flour. Once no more lumps of butter can be seen, add the eggs and lightly whipped double cream and stir until smooth.

5. Pour half of the filling into the cake tin. Add spoonfuls of the rhubarb jam over the filling, then use a knife to cut through the jam and start to incorporate the jam into the filling – you want it to have a marbled appearance so don’t mix it too much.

6. Add the remainder of the filling, followed by the rest of the rhubarb jam (added again in spoonfuls around the top of the cake). Briefly mix through the jam to marble it through the cheesecake.

7. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour.

8. Remove from the oven and top with circles of the segmented nectarine slices. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until when moved gently, only the center of the cheesecake wobbles.

9. Turn off the oven then leave the cheesecake to cool for one hour in the oven. Then gently run a palette knife around the rim of the cheesecake – this helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking. 

10. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours.

11. Enjoy! 

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