Archive | June, 2012

Golden Brown

28 Jun

Dan Lepard Wholemeal bread

First of all, if this post has you humming The Stranglers, get your lug-holes round this Stylophone Council version of Golden Brown

dry ingredients wholemeal bread

secret ingredient

wholemeal bread ingredients

Now, down to business. Adventures in bread baking continue in the Bakes household. At the moment I’m trying to perfect the overnight fridge proving. First time round I made a lovely seeded bloomer, but made the mistake of putting the dough in the fridge overnight for the 2nd proving. It didn’t work as planned and the resulting loaf, although very tasty, was very dense. Must try harder!

Before proving

after prooving

freshly baked

Cooling the bread

More succesful was this Dan Lepard recipe for Wholemeal Bread. The dough went into the fridge for the 1st proving and left overnight. The following morning out came the dough to be shaped and left to prove for a 2nd time. Have you spotted Dan’s secret ingredient? It surely wouldn’t be a Dan Lepard recipe without a secret ingredient – 1/2 a 500mg Vitamin C tablet this time. It’s scientific, so I won’t can’t explain, but apparently it stops the bread being too heavy. I’m not sure how, but it did work! A proposal for keeping your freshly baked loaf in tip-top condition – wrap and store in a *clean* tea towel (preferably linen), or you could make yourself a bread bag like this one.

sandwich bread

There you have it – a light, fluffy, crunchy crust wholemeal loaf. Perfect for a cheese and pickle sandwich if you ask me.

bacon eggs and wholemeal bread

Or toasted to have with your eggs and bacon on Sunday morning. Tick!

Wedding Bake Off, Part 3

25 Jun

And the winner is…well, it’s the CARDAMOM POND CAKE, of course!


Look at it! What a cake, it’s got us on it – Mr & Mrs Cakes, swimming in a pond. It’s too perfect. And the little flower and reed details. You’ve got me, I love it. Full marks for appearance! But remember, we scored the cakes on creativity and taste too. So, okay, creativity – hmmm, yep. Not bad. It’s a cake that looks like a pond with us swimming in it, quite creative. And it tastes of cardamom. Not only that it tastes ruddy fantastic! Now, I’ve tried making a cardamom cake before. It didn’t taste much like cardamom. Thank goodness Mog (Symondsbury Bake Off 2012 champ) was willing to share her secrets with us.

Let me tell you how the conversation went –

Mrs Cakes: Can I have your Cardamom Cake recipe? I want to blog it..
Mog: Sure! It’s basic cake with c.10 (too many?) crushed cardamom stirred in while adding the eggs. A lucky variation on (as the boy terms it) “just cake” or plain sponge.
Mrs Cakes: Just cake? Love it!
Mog: Sometimes he adds an expletive in the middle, hence my search for ways to enliven it!
Mrs Cakes: Defo the right amount of cardamom. 10 pods or 10 seeds?
Mog: Pods. Seeds=too weak, packets=too strong.
Mrs Cakes: You’re so smart!

Here is my approximation of the cake

200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs
10 cardamom pods, ground
200g self-raising flour
1-2 tbsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease and line 2x 20cm round cake tins.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar together, and when they become pale and fluffy beat in the eggs 1 at a time adding 1/4 of the ground cardamom with each egg.

3. Gently fold in the flour, you want to achieve a batter that drops off the spoon, so add milk until this is as desired.

4. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 20-25 mins until golden brown and a skewer stuck into the middle comes out clean.

5. Allow the cakes to cool for 5 mins in the tins, then remove and place on a wire rack.

6. When totally cool, sandwich the cakes together with jam (I think rhubarb would taste perfect with the cardamom, or you could try apricot)

7. If you have a bake-off to enter, cover the cake in icing that looks like a pond with people swimming in it. If not just sprinkle with icing sugar and eat! This is not “just cake” anymore.

Wedding Bake Off, Part 2

21 Jun

IMG_2433 - Version 2 (42 of 55)

Oh good, you’re back to see who came second in the bake-off? Well, you see that rather tasty looking offering 2nd from the back? The muddy, chocolatey, gooey cake with that “eat-me” creamy frosting on top? Can you tell what it is…? It’s a Chocolate Guinness mud cake. Bit of a gamble, I’m not usually one for chocolate cakes! But, put a bit of booze in there and add a creamy, cream cheese topping (it reminds me of carrot cake) and jobs a good ‘un.

Bake Off Wedding Cakes

Before we get to the details of the Guinness cake, how about some of the other entries? We did pretty well – look at this table full of treats, from the imaginatively titled ABCD cake (containing apricots, bananas and it’s seedy) to the opportunistically named Sicilian lemon drop cake (the middle of the cake sank when it came out the oven…)

IMG_2431 - Version 2 (40 of 55)

Wouldn’t you like a slice of one of these? A fruity citrus-y cake (so ZINGY) decorated with cake pops!!! Or this beautiful chocolate cake, decorated with smarties and Cadbury’s fingers – like something straight out off Christmas c.1986


OMG! Look at this little lady – Barbie Wedding Cake, absolute genius!


Mmmmm, and these fluffy clouds of coconutty, creamy delight.

the day after cakes

We had so much cake, we had to invite everyone back again the next day to help us polish it off. What great hosts are we?

Back to the Chocolate Guinness mud-cake. My goodness, it was divine – so moist and dense at the same time, like the best brownie you’ve ever tasted but better and almost sandy, no muddy in texture. The icing on top was, well, just the icing on the cake. Cool, smooth, creamy and tangy. Try this recipe – Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake and wish that it comes out half as well as the bake-offering. What we didn’t realise when judging that there was a picture of us both underneath.

Finch & Ford

I think had we seen it, the cake would have won….no?

Thanks again to Dave Johnson for the faberooney snaps!

Wedding Bake Off, Part 1

18 Jun

Hummingbird Carrot Ginger Cake

Me & Mr Cakes got married last month, did I mention it? With our love of cakes, it seemed only sensible to hold a bake-off on the big day. We invited our friends to bring a bake of their making to be judged by your very own Mr & Mrs Cakes. Of course we took it all very seriously. We had a clipboard and everything in order to score each bake according to appearance, taste and creativity!

Bake Off Judging

We had lots of fantastic entries, and lots of people in 4th place! Today I’d like to share with you the cake that came 3rd, made by none other than big sis Cakes and her family! (not a fix, honest! They’d have won if it was….)

Bake Off Table

The cake of beauty was a Carrot and Ginger layer cake from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. Flippin’ gorgeous! Big sis did have a small advantage in knowing my favourite cake in the whole world is carrot cake (but then any one of you reading this blog will also know this). But this was a thing of beauty – 4 layers of moist sponge, packed full with fresh carrots and fresh ginger – imagine the freshest carrot and ginger juice, freshly squeezed from your favourite wholefoods cafe but better. And then the icing, yes – iced with lashings of the very important cream cheese icing. You can find a scaled down version of the recipe here. Just double up and split between 4x 20cm round tins. Now, who is next to get married? I NEED another bake-off opp!

Thanks again to Dave Johnson for taking the fabulous wedding pics

Pimp my cake

14 Jun

almond cake berry compote creme fraiche

Me and that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall are totally on the same wavelength. Just as I’m thinking about blogging the virtues of plain, good old fashioned sponge cake all tarted up with compote (stewed fruit to me and thee) and a dollop of cream, he comes up with this formula: fruit + cake + custard or cream = winning dessert. You’re so right Hugh, just what *I* was thinking. More of Hugh’s insight and his fruity cakey creamy recipes are to be found here in his Guardian column

How about this for a pudding win? Madeira cake (but baked is a round tin rather than a loaf) with stewed summer fruits & crème fraîche as pictured above. The stewed summer fruits are easy – take any bag of frozen fruit and put them in a saucepan, heat on a very low heat until they’re all oozy and smooshed up and sweeten to taste with your preferred sweetener.

victoria sponge with strawberries and cream

Or how about this take on the classic Victoria sponge, with fresh strawberry compote instead of jam. With this one you get to macerate the fruit (remember that?) Check out Rhubarb & Rose for an inspirational rhubarb version. I reckon rhubarb and strawberry would be killer!

And if all else fails, just turn your plain sponge into cake pops. Cake will never, ever be boring!

Loafing around

12 Jun


Loafing around? As if! The forecast downpour didn’t arrive which meant only one thing for me & Mr Cakes on Sunday morning. CYCLE RIDE! Up & out the door by 6.30 meant we had cycled out of Shoreditch to deepest darkest sunniest Essex by the time most people are only starting to *think* about getting out of bed. Smug much?

white loaf

After Greater Anglia trains’ best efforts to prevent us getting home, we did get back – and just in time for lunch bread baking. After the BBQ bun success of recent weeks, it seemed appropriate to go back to basics with Dan Lepard’s failsafe white bread recipe found, again, in the Guardian complete with tips & tricks to help your loaf succeed!

Dan Lepard White Bread Ploughmans

I reckon it worked, what do you think? And yes, that is big sis’s Damson Chutney you can see there – an excellent accompaniment.

Dan Lepard White Bread sandwich

Not bad toasted with butter & jam either. Although – a word of caution. We scoffed the lot pretty quick! Thanks again Mr Lepard.

Dan Lepard bread butter and jam

BBQ Custard Buns

9 Jun

Dan Lepard Slider Buns
You wouldn’t know it now, but sometimes the sun comes out in the UK, and we can do fun things like sit outside & have BBQs. Yup, it’s true – a couple of weeks ago, the sun shone, Shoreditch heated up, and out came the coals and burgers.

Custard Powder for Bread
I haven’t done much in the bread baking department, but after the success of Dan Lepard’s hot cross buns at Easter, I thought – why not try some of his burger buns, following this recipe for his “Slider buns” found on the Guardian website.

custard bread
Imagine my surprise when the first step in Dan’s method is to make custard. Yup, you heard. Custard. Admittedly it’s a very savory custard, but a custard nonetheless. Made with custard powder, and milk and everything. Crackers!

Dan Lepard burger buns
Then it’s the usual drill. Add flour etc, do the minimal Dan Lepard kneading trick, prove the dough, roll into balls and prove again.

bread rolls after proving
Bit of egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake until golden. Don’t they look good? Another success, thanks Dan!

baked bread rolls
Good enough to wrap up with brown paper and butchers twine to take to the BBQ you’ve just been invited to.

And don’t forget about Big sis’s corn relish, a perfect burger condiment. Don’t mind if I do!


How To Make A Wedding Cake

2 Jun

First of all, have a wedding…

The Kiss

But very first of all, remember this is your weekend. And if you flipping well want to go swimming at the beach on the morning of your wedding, then do it!

hive beach wedding swim

Then invite friends and family back to your manor house (in this case we used Symondsbury Manor near Bridport in Dorset)

symondsbury manor

Ask Granny to bake you her signature fruit cake, and get it iced accordingly

wedding cake close up

Then get a chum to make some amazing cake toppers in your likeness

Kick Ass Bride

This step can be omitted, only use if you have a good sense of humour

Kick Ass Groom

Act like your manga selves and STAB THE CAKE!

stab the cake

Then remember where you are, take a deep breath, relax and cut the cake folks. Hurrah! You are now officially Mr & Mrs Cakes.

cut the wedding cake

Granny Cakes lovingly made the cake for our wedding. And now, you lucky people, she shares her recipe with us! Use it wisely – it would probably make a good Christmas cake too…



The night before you want to bake your cake weigh out the fruity ingredients and add the booze. Cover with a teatowel and leave to infuse.

The next day pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1,/275 F /140 C and grease and line your cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar together, and then beat the eggs in one at a time. Fold in the flour and spices and then the boozy fruits, almonds, and the grated lemon rind.

Spoon the cake mix into the cake tin and spread out to level. Cover the top of the cake with a double layer of greaseproof paper that has a small hole cut in the centre (about the size of say, a wedding ring!) Bake for 4½ hours for the 7 inch cake, 4¾ hours for the 9 inch, and 5½ for the 11 inch cake.

When the cake comes out the oven leave to cool and when completely cold wrap well in greaseproof paper and store in a cake tin. If you so desire you can “feed” your cake at regular intervals with some extra booze. Ooh, go on then!

About a week before the wedding the cake should be iced. Granny Cakes did a great job, now you know where the rest of us get it from!

Thank you very much to the wonderful and talented Dave Johnson for taking the photographs of our wedding. You can find more photos on his blog.