Recipe: Bounty Cake

Taste of Paradise cake

Bounty Cake, aka Taste of Paradise Cake, is a recipe I submitted to the Nottingham Post’s weekend magazine feature, ‘A nice slice’. I love bounty bars, and this cake had instant appeal to me when I saw the original recipe on this blog, by Cathryn and Sarah-Jane from the latest season of the Great British Bake Off.

Coconut sponge topped with decadent chocolate and toasted coconut sounded like a winning combination to me. After I baked it, I also delivered it to the Nottingham Post HQ in the city, and the team there seemed really grateful. I even received a wedding proposal by email as a result (I think it was a joke…).

Here is the lovely write-up they gave me, which includes the recipe. They even mentioned this blog site in there, which was very sweet of them – especially considering it is so new.

Nottingham Post Weekend magazine

I only slightly varied from the original in that I found the icing to be a bit too solid – my fault for not putting in the full amount of milk, so I’d suggest don’t be afraid of all the milk and I’ve reduced the amount of icing sugar slightly. Also, the resulting cakes are BIG – perfect for feeding a crowd. But if you want a smaller cake, you could easily halve the amounts and just do a single layer.

In case you can’t read the recipe clearly, here it is:

Bounty Cake (Taste of Paradise Cake)

Ingredients:

  • 500gm soft butter
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 150ml butter milk
  • 400gm caster sugar
  • 75gm desiccated coconut
  • 450gm SR flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

For icing and decoration:

  • 150gm dark chocolate
  • 50gm milk chocolate
  • 80gm soft butter
  • 4tbsp whole milk
  • 140gm icing sugar
  • 50gm cocoa powder
  • Toasted shredded coconut

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 170C. Grease and line two deep, round sponge tins.
  • Cream together the soft butter and sugar with electric beaters until pale and fluffy.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg whites and butter milk.
  • In another large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
  • Add egg mixture, a ladleful at a time, to butter mixture, alternating with a spoonful of flour, until all egg mix is combined (The flour stops the mix from curdling).
  • Add the remaining flour and coconut, and mix lightly until just combined.
  • Pour into the prepared tins and bake for 45 minutes, or until light brown and pulling away from the sides of the tin.
  • While the cakes are cooling, make the icing.
  • Melt the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, milk and butter in a bowl in the microwave, stirring regularly to avoid burning, until just melted and combined.
  • Remove from microwave, sift in the icing sugar and cocoa, beating well until a spreadable consistency.
  • Fill and ice the cakes, decorating with the shredded coconut. Or you could decorate with sliced bounty bars for something more decadent.

A nice slice

Happy baking!

Recipe: Cherry & Chocolate Cupcakes

For the most recent meeting of Cake Club I made chocolate cherry cupcakes, garnished with suitably ghoulish bloody eyeballs. The recipe I used is a simple Nigella recipe, and the resulting cupcakes were delicious. A nice soft cake with a deep, dark fruity flavour from the use of cherry jam in the mix. Nigella topped her cupcakes with cherries, but I chose eyeballs (made of chocolate) instead, to fit in with the Halloween theme.

Chocolate cherry cupcakes

Cherry & Chocolate Cupcakes (Halloween style)

Ingredients:

  • 125gm soft unsalted butter
  • 100gm dark chocolate (I used the Sainsbury’s basics chocolate found in the confectionary aisle – 30p for 100gm and rich in cocoa, perfect for baking)
  • 300gm morello cherry jam (I used Sainsbury’s reduced sugar morello cherry jam)
  • 150gm golden caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150gm SR flour

For the icing:

  • 100gm dark chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • Box of Lindt truffle balls (I used milk chocolate)
  • 200gm white chocolate
  • Red and blue food dye to decorate
  • 4 tbsps raspberry jam

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180C and line a 12-cup muffin tray with cupcake cases.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When nearly fully melted, stir in the broken dark chocolate, leave to warm for one minute, then remove from heat. Stir until smooth and combined.
  • Add the cherry jam, sugar and salt, and stir until well combined. Lightly beat the eggs and then add these too.
  • Lightly stir in the flour, and then spoon into the prepared cupcake cases.
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes. When they look ready, take them out and leave the pan to cool on a wire rack for ten minutes, before turning out the cupcakes.
  • Once cool, prepare the icing.
  • Break the dark chocolate into squares, and put in a saucepan with the cream. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and stir til smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then whisk until thickened.
  • Spread this on the top of the cupcakes using a spoon, and then top with one of your chocolate eyeballs.

Iced cupcakes

To make the eyeballs, melt the white chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Zap it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between each blast, to ensure it doesn’t burn, and instead reaches a nice runny consistency.

Using two teaspoons, drop the unwrapped lindt balls into the chocolate one at a time, and roll around to cover, before scooping out gently, and placing on some greaseproof baking paper to set.

White chocolate covered Lindt balls

After the chocolate had hardened, I was planning on using my newly purchased (from eBay) sugar art pens in red and black to draw on the eyes.

Sugar art pens

Unfortunately the pens didn’t seem to work properly on the white chocolate surface, and dried out, meaning only two of the eyeballs were done before they stopped working.

After a few minutes of panic, I decided to instead use red and blue gel food dyes to create the eyeball effect, and they worked pretty well. I applied the dye with the end of a toothpick, drawing the red outline first, then dabbing blue in the centre.

Chocolate eyeball close-up

I’ve got my eye on you!

Cupcake close-up

To create some blood for oozing out of the eyeballs, I placed the raspberry jam in a strainer over a bowl, to remove the seeds. The smooth liquid that resulted, was then dropped onto each eyeball, running down the side onto the cake, to create a ‘bloody’ effect.

Straining the jam

This is a very useful chocolate cupcake recipe to have on hand – very easy to make, and they taste delicious. You can use a similar recipe with other flavours such as orange, raspberry or apricot, using the relevant replacement jam in the mix. I think I’ll try apricot next.

Happy baking x

A day out in Lincoln

A few weeks ago, my lovely friend Holly invited me to join her and a bunch of friends for a big day out / train picnic adventure to Lincoln. Only one hour from Nottingham by train, I’d heard little about Lincoln – only that it is home to an impressive Cathedral and hosts a hugely popular Christmas market each December – and had never been there before.

Unfortunately the reason for our outing was a sad one, as Holly is leaving Nottingham to move to London, but in her inimitable style, she made sure to have a special send-off.

First up was the train journey there. We enjoyed a train picnic – bringing prosecco, red wine, cheese, pork pies, nuts, hommus, tomatoes and other tasty delights on board to share amongst the group. It was a lovely way to pass the train journey, as we travelled through pretty Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire countryside.

Welcome to Lincoln

Once arriving in Lincoln we enjoyed ‘free time’ and wandered around the town checking out the historic cobbled streets, and visiting some of the quirky stores and sights.

Saturday morning in Lincoln

Saturday morning in Lincoln is BUSY. It was a cold November day, but the sun was shining and it seemed everyone had come out to make the most of it. The area nearer the train station is mainly the usual high street suspects, but as we ventured further away, and started climbing up hill, we began to appreciate Lincoln’s pretty historic face.

Ladies who train picnic

The streets start to rise quite steeply and are lined with historic buildings, and on this autumn day the bunting was flying in the sunshine.

Lincoln’s Steep Hill

Steep Hill is a beautiful narrow street leading up to Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle, and is lined with all manner of temptations – second-hand bookshops, vintage shops, crafty gift stores, tea shops and clothing boutiques.

Autumn colours

It really is quite a steep climb, but there is plenty of cause to stop on the way up for a breather. We browsed in plenty of stores, but I managed to resist the temptations and save my pennies. We wandered and browsed and chatted, til we got to the top of the hill.

Cake show

I was particularly taken with this cake display in one of the tea shop windows. Tempting toffee fudge cake? If I wasn’t still full to the brim from the train picnic, I definitely would have been tempted to try a piece.

Lincoln Cathedral spires

As we got to the top of the hill, we spotted the cathedral’s famous spires in the distance, and a few of us wandered over to have a look at Lincoln’s most famous landmark.

A few interesting facts about Lincoln Cathedral:

  • For 249 years it held the title of the tallest building in the world (1300 – 1549)
  • The original Lincoln Cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 1185. An earthquake! In Lincoln!?
  • It costs more than 1 million pounds per year to maintain the Cathedral
  • The Cathedral played the role of Westminster Abbey in the film of The Da Vinci Code

Spires and sunshine

It really is a beautiful building, and absolutely enormous. It glowed in the sunshine, and we stepped inside to appreciate it fully.

Inside the Cathedral

The sun shining through those huge stained glass windows was really something. I couldn’t really capture it properly on my little camera, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Lincoln Cathedral is open daily, and it is free to go inside and see the nave. For 6 pounds you can explore further and take part in one of the tours – I’d love to go back and have a proper look around.

Future home

The street outside the cathedral is lined with lovely historic homes. This one especially caught my eye – so pretty, and wouldn’t a Christmas tree glowing in the window just look picture perfect?

Lincoln’s famous Christmas market takes place 6 – 9 December this year, and although it is said to be hugely busy, it sounds like a brilliant festive day out.

Have you been to Lincoln or the Christmas market? What did you think?

The Cheese Shop, Nottingham

Hands up who loves cheese? I’m assuming quite a few of you have your hands in the air right now. I love cheese so much that I have both my hands up, which is fairly impressive given I’m somehow still managing to type this. Three cheers for cheese!

As much as I love sweet things, if I had to choose between cheese and chocolate, then nine out of ten times, cheese would be the winner.

So it should come as no surprise that The Cheese Shop in Nottingham is one of my favourite foodie finds in the city. No fancy play on words, it does what it says on the tin. This is a shop, which sells cheese. It does one thing, and it does it truly well.

This family-run business has been running for almost 20 years, and has a loyal clientele in Nottingham. Local Michelin-starred chef Sat Bains even sources his cheese from here.

Around a month ago, The Cheese Shop moved premises. It stayed in the Flying Horse Walk arcade, but moved a few doors up, to expand from a small cheese counter, to a store about four times the size, now featuring a 30-cover cafe. More cheers for the cheese shop please!

Last weekend my friend Meli and I paid the new version of The Cheese Shop a visit, so I thought I’d share a little virtual tour of it with you.

Cheese counter at The Cheese Shop

The cheese counter at The Cheese Shop, is of course still the highlight. They have a huge selection, with a focus on locally sourced and British cheeses. You can pick up Nottinghamshire cheeses such as Stilton from Colston Bassett and Cropwell Bishop dairies, and Stichelton from the Welbeck Estate. Also regional varieties such as Lincolnshire Poacher.

Easy on the eye

The brothers who run the shop are helpful and friendly – they can answer any of your cheese related questions, and when I was in choosing cheese for a cheese plate a few weeks ago, they even let me try small pieces of the cheeses I was interested in before buying.

Friendly little mouse

As well as cheese, they now have an amazing array of homemade cakes, to be eaten with a lovely cup of tea. Plus they serve great value cheese rolls, where you can choose from any of the cheeses on the counter and have it served up in a crusty roll (with onion relish if you like) for just £2.50. Bargain!

Meli went for the classic Victoria sponge, and I had a goats cheese roll with onion relish. It was delicious… sorry no pics of those as they were eaten far too quickly.

Cafe at The Cheese Shop

There are plenty of other food treats to tempt you in store too – I can see myself doing a bit of Christmas shopping here.

Table of treats

Tempting truffles

These truffles looked particularly lovely I thought.

Cat tongues

And my French friend was excited to see these classic French biscuits, ‘cat tongues’ on sale. Some of you may have seen Danny do a version of these in the Great British Bake Off recently.

I heartily recommend a visit to the Cheese Shop next time you’re in Nottingham. I’ll be returning soon to keep working my way through the cheese selection, in order to made an educated decision on which is my favourite.

Which do you prefer? Chocolate or cheese?

Happy eating,

Erin x

Cake Eaters Anonymous

Exactly one year ago I attended my first ever meeting of Cake Eaters Anonymous in Nottingham. Scheduled cake eating with other cake lovers? Yes, I was pretty keen, and have been a committed Cake Club member ever since. The idea behind the group is simple – once a month we get together in a chosen venue, bring a cake to share and raise money for a worthy local charity.

Today was the October meeting, which took place at the beautiful Fothergills Pub in the centre of Nottingham, opposite Nottingham Castle and the photo opportunity that is the Robin Hood statue (see my profile pic for a demonstation of ‘Robin-Hooding’).

Given the timing, this month had a Halloween theme, and the room was awash with an excess of orange food colouring, bats, spiderwebs, skeletons, and even a graveyard.

I decided to try this Nigella recipe for chocolate and cherry cupcakes, topped with gory bloody eyeballs. Steps on how to try this at home to follow in another blog post soon.

The cake spread was seriously impressive this month – the majority of people had gone to town on the Halloween theme, and those that hadn’t instead chose to showcase seasonal flavours such as pumpkin, cinnamon, apple, almond and hazelnut in their cakes.

Bat cupcakes and coffin cakes (with homemade honeycomb).

Halloween bundt cake by the very clever Kerry, no-bake tiffin and a very lovely looking chocolate and almond cake.

Spiderweb cupcakes and Laura’s very lovely chocolate and orange fudge cake.

For the ticket price, we’re entitled to three cakes/pieces of cake. The monthly decision of which cakes to have is probably the toughest I face in my life. Yes, I know, I have quite an easy life and it’s a very nice problem to have!

I decided to go for a piece of Laura’s chocolate orange fudge cake (which was voted the best cake of the day), a cinnamon swirl cupcake by talented Liana of Star Bakery (whose son had helped with the decorations) and a piece of gorgeous hazelnut and apple cake.

What a treat!

I always look forward to the last Sunday of the month – such a top way to spend the afternoon, chatting with lovely people, sharing homemade cake and sipping tea in a beautiful venue.

I’d also like to take the chance to dispel a few cake club myths…

1. Cake Club isn’t a euphemism for ‘greedy overeaters’. We’re all there because we love baking and sharing what we’ve made with fellow bakers, and I’m pretty sure we all limit our cake bingeing to once a month. Although that said, it is a pretty dangerous club to attend if you’re on a diet.

2. Cake Club isn’t just for ladies. Most people assume Cake Club is some sort of extension of the Women’s Institute, but we actually have quite a few male bakers every month, and often they make the best cakes (see the three finalists from this year’s Great British Bake Off if you still need convincing boys can bake).

3. Cake Club isn’t just for professional bakers. We have people of every age and ability attending, from people who bake professionally, to those who are just starting out and use it as a chance to try new recipes and techniques. Everyone is welcome.

The next meeting of Cake Club is taking place on Sunday 25 November. Join the Facebook page to be kept up to date on tickets. You can also see a list of other cake clubs around the UK on the notes of the Facebook page if you’d like to find one near you. Or start your own! As well as raising money for charity through ticket price, there is also a raffle and donation box on the day.

Happy baking,

Erin