24 January 2016

The Best Damn Lemon Cake?

January is always a tight month in our house. Christmas bills come in and we start replenishing our savings. January is also the month where we try to cut back on our shopping bills, use up what we have in the cupboards and freezer and start a general clear out. A head start on the spring clean if you like. I am partial to a good dose of uncluttering, so the kitchen is my favourite place to begin. However on inspection, my baking cupboards were looking a little bare, a first I think, but nevertheless bare. So I set myself a challenge...

No NAME BRAND baking products this month. 

The budget was set and I opted to buy all store or own brand ingredients. Bakers are always told to buy the best ingredients they can afford but maybe the less expensive ingredients shouldn't be looked over. I wanted to test to see if they were up to scratch. I don't shop in one specific supermarket, I shop around and hit a few of them but this month I decided to buy all my baking ingredients from Lidl*. 

I found I was pleasantly surprised with their baking selection, it has come a long way and offers some lovely choices. The Cake Slice Bakers and I are flying through Maida Heatters Cakes and this month I opted to make "The Best Damn Lemon Cake" on page 21 which perfectly coincides with my bake-on-a-budget idea.

The Best Damn Lemon Cake

The Cake:
125g Bellbake ground almonds
180g The Pantry self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
125g Dairy Manor butter (melted)
225g Bellbake sugar
2 eggs (free range)
125ml Morning Fresh buttermilk
1 bottle lemon essence
finely grated zest and juice of two large lemons

Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C or Gas Mark 4. Line a a loaf cake tray with a liner, or butter it up and dust it with flour. Tap out the excess flour and leave the tray to one side.
Sift together the baking powder, flour and salt.
Melt the butter and add to the a bowl with the sugar, beat to mix a little.
Add the eggs on at a time until just incorporated.
On a low speed mix in the dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk and scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
Mix in the lemon essence.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, add in the grated zest and fold through the ground almonds.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for 45-65 minutes until the skewer inserted in the middle comes out with crumbs on it, but dry. Two to three minutes before the cake comes out of the oven, make the glaze.

The Glaze:
155g Bellbake sugar
85ml of lemon juice

Stir the lemon juice and sugar in a small pot over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Do not allow it to boil.

When the cake comes out of the oven, let it stand for a few minutes. 
Brush the glaze over the cake and allow it to seep in. Try not to apply the glaze quickly. Let it soak in before the next application. (Or if you're anything like me and start the glaze as you really need to be heading out the door to swimming, you'll just poke a few holes and pour it over slowly!!)

Allow the cake to completely cool, then pop it in the fridge over night to soak and settle.

This cake is very, very lemony. It is very, very moist and is most definitely DAMN DELICIOUS!! The results from my bake-on-a-budget were a resounding success. The ingredients from Lidl stood up to the test and I am really pleased with how this cake turned out. My cupboards are restocked and I am happy to say that I will be baking with Lidl's products again. 

Moving past all that check out what the other bakers made... And welcome our new members to the group by swinging by and saying hello!

* I wasn't, AT ALL, asked to endorse Lidl's products. All the opinions expressed are my own and I have not been paid or sponsored to do this. This is not a review, more of a look-what-I-did (points to lemon cake) while saving some pennies and it paid off. Kind of a for your information post, if you like. It's sharing a bargain, and I love to share a good bargain!!

10 January 2016

Peach Winter Crumble

With January well on it's way, I have been finding it hard to get back into things. College isn't back until the end of this month and I think because I had worked so hard last semester, I deserve an elongated break... whether or not that's right, it is what I am telling myself anyway!

I'm not a fan of January, a strange month. An in between month, sort of a no mans land with a tendency to throw up atrocious weather and consequently, varying degrees of boredom. Now you could say here if I started back into college work I could curb some boredom but then.. I wouldn't have time to bake you see, so really it's best I leave that for another while.

I did find in the absence of activity, the need to look into my kitchen drawers and ponder whether or not they will ever look as good as those you see in the magazines. I noticed the half empty packets of bits and pieces and figured I would put them to good use in a fruit crumble. 

Thing is, tinned peaches were all I had in abundance. And with my kids and husband having a strong aversion to any fruit that isn't chocolate, I was making this crumble for myself. Not that that's a real problem per say, but it is a problem when you are trying to reduce your sugar intake or you know, watching your waistline expand. 

Peach Winter Crumble
The Peaches:
2 cans of peach halves
2  tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
Pinch of ground cloves

The Crumble:
140g plain flour
60g ground almonds
100g porridge oats (not instant)
75g cold butter
50g soft brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F or Gas mark 4.
Drain the peaches and pop them into a deep baking dish. Scatter over the sugar and the spices and then toss everything together.
In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, ground almonds and soft brown sugar.
In another bowl, melt the butter in the microwave and pour into the crumble mix. Mix together with a fork until you have a rough crumbly, squidgy mixture.

Scatter over the peaches, then bake for 25-35 mins until golden and crunchy on top.

Allow to cool and enjoy!

How are you getting through January? Or do you like being marooned on no mans land.. I'd love to know what you think!

05 January 2016

Orange Loaf Cake

I am just not ready for the holidays to be over.

It feels like they came and went in a blink of an eye and I don't want to leave home, go back to work and start the humdrum again. It seems to go by faster each and every year. Time has a funny way of speeding up when you don't want it to.

But then we all know little tricks to slow it down, just for moments at a time. To catch your breath, realign. Those times for me is coffee and a slice of something nice. I do love a little loaf. There's something very comforting about a slice of loaf cake. It's not too much, overkill or heavy. Just a morsel of mmm... helping me get on my way.

Orange Loaf Cake

125g softened salted butter
225g caster sugar
275g self raising flour
2 large eggs
zest and juice of 2 oranges
125ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180C, 350F or Gas mark 4. Grease a one pound loaf tin with butter and dust with flour. Tap out the excess. 

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and pale.
Add in an egg, one at a time until the yolks have been disappeared.
Dry whisk or sieve your flour and baking powder together.
Add the vanilla to the egg/sugar/butter combination.
Add half your dry ingredients to the butter combo and then half the buttermilk. Mix until combined and repeat. Be careful not to over mix the batter here as you want the loaf to stay light and fluffy. The buttermilk helps with that too. Just make sure all the ingredients have been mixed together.

Fold in the zest and juice.

Transfer the batter into a prepared tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. You'll know it's done as the top will be golden, have a slight spring in them when you gently push down on the top or a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clear!

The citrus in this loaf is not over powering and the crumb is soft and fluffy. The recipe is simple, basic at best, but a great one for a cup of coffee or tea mid morning.

Enjoy a moment to yourself.

01 January 2016

Hello 2016...

A wrap it up posts of sorts. No promises, gimmicks or resolutions just a few thoughts and notions about the year that was 2015. I have included some of my favourite bakes over the past few months... For posterity you see. 

I want to start out by thanking each and everyone of you fine folk for dropping by. I always get overwhelmed by the amount of people who pass through, by their kind words and thoughtfulness in their comments. It's been a busy year, this past one. Busy in the best way! So many new journeys and experiences and a lot of things learned along they way...

  • Starting a new blog has given my writing a lot more focus
  • Focusing on the new blog of late, has been dismal to say the least
  • Keeping functional lists is a huge help in controlling anxiety
  • Multiple lists can be overwhelming and in fact can add to said anxiety
  • Being a one woman show is great
  • Allowing those who surround and love you to help out with your one woman show is even greater
  • Doubting your ability is one of the easiest and most unproductive things to do
  • Genuinely believing you've got this is by far the most liberating option (and also a work in progress!)

But the biggest thing I have learned is that time is so precious. Being present, not just part of the process is something I had never really thought about. I get it now. Between working full time, doing my Masters and my family, there is little time left for other things... but I have noticed the effort I put into my life now is so much more than before. Because I don't have time to waste, not this year. It all counts!

On a side note, and probably one that means nothing to anyone outside of Ireland, owning a really good waterproof jacket ensures you can get away with not having an umbrella. Because I always forget my umbrella but my new snazzy raincoat makes sure I'm covered!!

I want to wish you all  a safe and happy New Year. May 2016 be everything that you hope it to be. That you, your family and all those in between keep well and that we strive to be thoughtful and kind to one another.

While posts may be infrequent, goods will still be baked. They'll have to appear at some stage, I just hope you pop by when you can. The kettle is always on and the cake is always fresh...

Happy New Year!

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