Chocolate Chip Cookies

27 May 2016

I can tell you that it has taken me years to get this recipe right. And at that my self deprecating, self destruct button will tell me it's not perfect.

But heck, its pretty damn close.

There has always been a need in me to get the perfect chocolate chip cookie. You know the kind. The kind that's crisp on the outside, but chewy on the inside and has the right amount of chips per bite. A proper cookie. Too crisp and you are heading into biscuit territory. Too thick and soft and you're on the road toward scone town. It's all a bit of a doozey.

But when you finally, one day decide, that HERE are the ingredients and HERE are their measurements and this feels like IT IS GOING TO MAKE the best-chocolate-chip-cookie-you-have-ever-made.. Breeeeaaattthhh... it just makes you all sorts of tingly! And then when those ingredients combine and actually give you the best chocolate chip cookie you have ever made... you feel the planets align. The universe turns in your favour. The problems of your world are nothing and you look in awe at your creation. And smile.

Because you did it. And your family know you did it because they eat them two at a time and complain when they are gone. And the batch you brought out as testers to the BBQ were passed around like some gate way drug, with folks watching the box and counting how many people were inline before it got back around to them.

And you ensure the guests know that you MADE them, they were not bought... **insert blatant indignation here.

You did it. Because you are that freakin' awesome. But also cautious.. because they are not that perfect.

Not. Just. Yet.

Chocolate Chip Cookie
-makes about 30 

113g soft, salted butter
95g 100% vegetable fat or shortening at room temperature (I use the Cookeen brand)
200g white sugar
220g soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
2tsp vanilla
452g self raising flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g + of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F or Gas mark 4. Line your cookie sheets with some parchment.

Beat the sugars, butter and fat together until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Add both the eggs and then the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.
Dry whisk the flour, baking powder and bicarb of soda together and then add to the wet mix. Mix until just together.
Add the chocolate chips and mix until it resembles the picture above. This mix is not sticky, but more of a playdoh consistency.
Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough and roll them into golf ball sized balls. I can fit 9 cookies on one baking sheet I own and 6 cookies on another.. Just make sure when you are spacing them, you give them enough room to spread out.

I can make about 30 palm of your hand sized cookies, you make them bigger or smaller, just adjust your spacing and time baking. Smaller cookies will take a shorter cooking time.

Cook for 10-12 minutes, depending on how crisp you want them to be and leave them on the sheet to cool for at least 15-20 minutes.

I mean eat five or six as soon as they come out of the oven, warm with a glass of milk if you want but ideally you should wait.. They are worth those extra few minutes!

There is nothing nutritional about these cookies. I have no idea how long they would last given they haven't made it through a day in my house yet. I am assuming you would need to keep them in a sealed container, with a thumb print lock, in a magic cupboard that is also protected by a dragon, if you want to hang on to them for any time.

They are really that good. And if you decided to sandwich two of them with whole bean vanilla ice cream, I think you'd be on to a winner there.

Perfectly delicious. Have a great weekend!!

Gingerbread And Apricot Loaf

20 May 2016

I handed up my final assignments with college, took some much needed downtime in the sunshine with my family and baked this loaf cake last weekend.

I went to work, did my job and caught up with some friends during the week. Then yesterday I was involved in a road traffic accident, where an absolutely reckless driver tried to over take two cars in front of him, with me coming against him, and he lost control of his car and smashed into me.

Pretty crap right.

But then look at all those positives I have had. Because that's what I have to think of this week. The positives. Like being part of this wonderful baking group and getting to bake some wonderful new recipes and concoctions I would have never tried before. And having some serious downtime with my family by forcing myself to rest up and heal.

These things may be little any other week but this week they are the biggest things to me. Cars can be replaced... my family, my friends both off and online, well, they cannot.

This cake was easy out. No fuss.. just put it all together and bobs your uncle. I had to make one change because of a stupid mistake on my part. I knew there was a jar of yellow/orangey jam in the fridge. My minds eye assumed it to be marmalade, like the recipe called for...

It wasn't.

It was apricot so I have substituted the marmalade that should have been in Maida's Recipe for apricot jam instead. Still tasted great though... and that's all the matters in these things!

Loaf Cake

280g self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp rum
125g butter
125ml honey
half a jar of apricot jam
2  large free range eggs

Line a 9 inch loaf pan with a loaf liner of parchment.
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F or gas mark 4.
In a bowl sift all the dry ingredients together.
Cream the butter with a electric mixer (or by hand if you're strong armed and not lazy like me!). Add the honey and mix. Add the jam and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go and only mixing until blended through.
Add half the dry ingredients and mix.
Then add in one egg to just mixed, scraping down the sides as you go. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and the other egg.
Fold in the rum and spoon out into the tin. Level the top of the mix.

Bake for 40-50 minutes depending on your oven. Check that it's done by inserting a skewer in the middle of the cake. It should come out clear.

Cool on the rack in the tin for 10 minutes then flip it out and allow to cool fully upside down.

It's this very pale, honey coloured, ginger flavoured loaf with a warming sensation. It was so delicious the following day, toasted and smothered in butter. I am very partial to next-day-loaf and especially a loaf cake that can be toasted, so this one checked a good few boxes for me!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!!

Enjoy it, whatever you decide to do and if your plan is to do nothing at all, be sure to enjoy that also!!

Madeira and Rhubarb

24 April 2016

"It makes a very nice gift and/or it is great to have on hand as a coffee or tea cake. 
And it is easy to make."

This month, for my installment with The Cake Slice Bakers, it was all about what I had in the cupboards. I haven't baked properly in so long, as in specifically went and bought ingredients for a bake, that I am just going through what I have in stock in the pantry. There's not a lot left these days but as soon as I get over final exams, the inventory will be taken and the stocks replenished. 

I loved seeing the chunky rhubarb stalks in the market, bought some knowing that they were going to be some sort of pie or compote. I am the only one in the house who likes rhubarb so I opted for a compote, to keep in the fridge and add to my yoghurt, or toast or cake or anything else I felt I could put compote on!

Maida Heatter sums up this yellow, buttery loaf perfectly in the quote above. It is a cinch to make and is rather delicious with coffee or tea. It's a compact crumb, with a soft, fluffy texture. It may be plain but it is delicious and well worth the make if you have some time to spare!

Just on a by the by... and I don't want you to think I am telling you your business. But, don't ever throw out your vanilla pods. Once you have scraped out all those yummy beans keep those leathery husks. If you don't already, decant your caster sugar into a clip top jar and pop in the bean pods. I collect all mine and it turns the sugar a vanilla flavour. SO MUCH cheaper than buying vanilla sugar too.

Rhubarb Compote

5 stalks of Rhubarb
juice of one large lemon
150g vanilla sugar

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F or gas mark 4.
Top, tail and rough cut your rhubarb to about 2cm chunks and pop them into an oven proof dish.
Squeeze over the lemon juice and toss the rhubarb in it.
Sprinkle over the sugar and ensure an even coating. Put the whole dish, uncovered, into a heated oven for about 20-25 minutes until soft and cooked through.

Once out, allow to cool completely and then you can do one of two things 1. mash it up chunky with a fork like I do or 2. blitz it with a hand held blender for a finer finish.

The choice is yours.

English Madeira Loaf
adapted from Maida Heatters Cakes pg 31

320g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt
170g soft butter
2 tsp vanilla
150g caster sugar
3 large free range eggs
125ml milk

Preheat your oven to 180C/350For gas mark 4 and line a 1lb loaf tin with a loaf liner or parchment paper. Leave enough hanging over the sides, so you will be able to lift the loaf out easily. Set the tin to one side.
In a small bowl, dry whisk the flour, baking powder and the salt.
In another bowl and with your mixer, soften the butter for a few minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the vanilla and then sugar and cream together until smooth and pale in colour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all the eggs have been incorporated, beat the mixture on high for about 5 minutes until a very pale cream colour and almost liquid.
Add the flour mixture in 3 separate stages with the mixer on low-speed alternating with the milk. 

Give the loaf batter a final stir with the spatula, ensuring all the sides have been scraped down and spoon into your loaf tin. Smooth over the top of the cake, ensuring it gets into the corners of the tin.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, depending on your oven or until a skewer inserted into the middles of the cake comes out clean.

Once out of the oven leave it in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes, until cooled. Remove from the tin then transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

Let me know if you try it or have a peek at what the rest of the gang are up to!

An InLinkz Link-up

Blueberry and Coconut Loaf

10 April 2016

You know the way I am doing my Masters in Education, right? Well it's normally a two year course but four of us are doing it in one year (because I don't know... we like to punish ourselves!) and there are only five weeks left of lecture contact time. Five weeks.. Which is just crazy when you think that I thought this time would never come in the thick of assignments at Christmas! 

It's not that things have slowed down, but it's more that assignment deadlines are looming and I am actually on top on them. Not on top of the actual 25,000 word thesis itself but you know the rest of the stuff I have to do.. I am getting covered! Basically this warbling means that I had time to bake.. actual real life time. Not borrowed, begged or stolen. Actual time. 

I chose a simple one bowl, minimal cleaning kind of bake because lets face it, with real time to spare I should be as productive in as many ways as possible. 

That's right nails... I am looking at you for painting!

This bake won't cost much time at all. It is soft and sweet and delicious. The butter crumb on the top, bakes to this crispy coat that just melts in your mouth as you eat it. You could sub in any berry you liked really, or leave the berries out altogether and add the juice and zest of one lime... It's a really good, one bowl, go-to recipe.

Blueberry and Coconut Loaf
225g caster sugar
275g self raising flour
2 large free range eggs
175ml buttermilk
125ml of sunflower oil
1 tsp baking powder
75g dessicated coconut

Preheat your oven 180C/350F or Gas Mark 4.
Line a 2lb loaf tin with some parchment or loaf liner.
Add all the ingredients above into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until just combined.
Make the blueberry jam thingy below...

125g fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons of sugar
40ml water

In a pot over a medium heat add the above ingredients and simmer down to a soft mush. Allow to cool for a bit and then fold through the loaf mixture above.

Pop the loaf mixture into the tin.

125g flour
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cold diced butter

Add all the ingredients into a bowl and run the butter through finger tips, mixing with the flour and sugar until you have chunky breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the loaf in the pan and press down slightly.

Bake in a preheated oven for 35-45 minutes checking for doneness around the 35 minute mark Inserting a skewer in the middle of the cake, should come back out clear. Allow to cool fully in the tine before cutting.

How are things going with you these days? I feel like I haven't caught up with anybody in ages. Let me know what's going in your part of the world... I would love to know.

Nosey so and so that I am!

Nutella and Kinder Cake... For Real.

03 April 2016

I knew this cake was coming up.

I knew this would be ready for after Easter because I knew that like every year, there would be bits and pieces of Easter eggs everywhere in this house. And I would need something to do with them.

A buddy of mine was all, hey I need cake and I was like sure thing, I've got a cake for you. This is what she got. She didn't complain and mentioned that she was browsing for tombstones on Amazon. That's a good sign right?

It's pure, unfiltered death by chocolate. It's two layers of a moist chocolate cake, filled with a hazelnut buttercream, topped with a chocolate ganache, dressed in Kinder and Nutella.

It's everything a left over Easter Egg chocolate cake should be. And what's more important, is that it uses up all the left over chocolate in the house... which I have been informed is a very elusive ingredient.

Like left over wine... folks find it hard to come across these things!

Chocolate Cake

150g of good plain chocolate (Try the darkest you can handle, but I made this with the leftover bits of Easter Eggs I had and it was just fine!)
225g caster sugar
150g coco powder
300g self raising flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
4 large, free range eggs
60ml hot and strong coffee
225ml vegetable oil
175ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F or Gas Mark 4. 
Line two 8 inch round cake tins with parchment, or spray with some cake release spray.
Make the coffee, make yourself one and take out 60ml. Pour over the chocolate and allow to melt. When melted add the vanilla and the salt.
Beat the sugar and the eggs until light and fluffy. They will increase in size.
Dry whisk all your dry ingredients together. 
Slowly add them to the sugar/egg combination.
Add the buttermilk and mix until just combined.
Add the oil and mix until just combined.
Finally fold through the coffee/chocolate combination with a spatula.

This mix is thick but runny so you can pour it into the pans easy.. divide evenly and tap the bottom of the pan gently off the counter to get rid of any bubbles.
When you have the pans filled, bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven. You'll know it's done when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Drink the coffee you made for yourself a few moments ago.

When the cakes are cooked, allow them to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Then turn out onto a wire tray and allow to cool FULLY before assembling.

Hazelnut Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

225g soft, room temperature, unsalted butter
500g sifted icing sugar
at least 2 tbsp of nutella (or see below)
up to 60ml cream/whole milk***

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high until it is very soft and pale. (TIP: pop the butter in the microwave for a few seconds until very soft.)
Add in the icing sugar a few cups at a time.
Add the nutella.
*** YOU MAY NOT NEED THIS...BUT If the buttercream is very thick, add a tablespoon of cream or milk in until the desired texture has been reached. 

Mix it until light and fluffy. The faster and longer you mix this, the lighter and fluffier it will be. 

***Alternatively you could use some of the chocolate ganache below to make your chocolate buttercream... It just won't taste like nutella. You get me. It'll taste like chocolate.

Chocolate Ganache

250g semisweet dark chocolate 
250ml Double Cream

Put the chocolate into a heat resistant bowl.
Heat the cream in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the cream begins to simmer, quickly remove from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Swirl the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is coated in the hot cream.
Cover the bowl to trap the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and slowly whisk the mixture until you have a smooth glossy ganache.
Leave to cool before using as a glaze on the cake.

The fun part...

To finish it's really very simple... you just layer up the cake with the frosting, slap it on rough on the outside, smudge over the ganache and decorate with all the Kinder bits and bobs you like!

People will LOVE. YOU. FOR. IT.

But it's up to you here.. decorate how you like it! This is how mine turned out and I think it looks rather good. Biased and all that I am.

Let me know if you give it a go.. I'd only love to know how you got on. Plus I love to see others creativity and hard work..

Carrot and Walnut Loaf

28 March 2016

Sometimes it's the simple things, right? The things that keep you going. The things that make you step back and take a breath and just be. I needed this bake as much as I needed a break, a breather, a catch up this weekend. 

One word. Chocolate.

The chocolate was everywhere. It still is everywhere. Now don't get me wrong, I am a massive fan of chocolate but... Ugh... The kids get so many Easter eggs, you can't get away from them. 

So this loaf came out of some sort of sugar coma guilt complex.

It's an easy one-bowl-great-for-breakfast-loaf. It's filled with brown flour, ground almonds and walnuts. Packed with orange, juicy carrots, a hint of spice and a little bit of brown sugar. It's probably the healthiest thing I bake and it's soooo good.

I love it toasted, smooshed with some real butter and a hot coffee. It's the simplest thing in the world to make. You can't mess this up and it's a real deal cake for breakfast notion. 

Carrot and Walnut Loaf
50g self-raising flour
250g brown flour
75g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
150g soft brown sugar
250ml vegetable oil
100ml buttermilk
4 large free range eggs
2 medium sized, grated carrots
100g chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F or Gas 4. Line a loaf tin with some parchment.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, cinnamon, and baking powder and then add the sugar. Stir in the almonds. Add the oil and eggs, mix until blended, then stir in the carrots and nuts. Pour the mix into your prepared tins.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in your preheated oven. Check for done-ness before removing from the oven, a skewer inserted into the cake should come out clean. Allow the loaf to cool in the tin before removing it. 

It doesn't make me feel bad about eating it and it's definitely not chocolate. This cake is super moist, packed with good flavour! Try it toasted, you won't regret it!

A treat I think the Easter bunny would approve of I think!

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