Wednesday, 26 November 2008

low-fat chocolate cupcakes -or- what to make when you have no butter but really want to bake

mmm low fat chocolate cakes? no. exactly thats what I think, but then when I found that my fridge was bereft of butter and not being up for going to the local shop in my pajamas (again) I found these to be a surprising triumph. Mainly because all they are is non-butter cakes; like lots of cakes...the low-fat title is rather misleading, yes, they are low in 'fats' but the volume of sugar more than makes up for that little diet factoid. Anyhoo, they are nice and here is how i did it...
300g plain flour
225g caster sugar
1tbsp baking powder
2tbsp cocoa powder
2 lightly beaten eggs
115ml sunflower oil
175ml skimmed milk
1tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 175C and line a 12-cup muffin tin (you could use fairy cake cases to make more, smaller cakes)
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and cocoa.
3. In the bowl of a cake mixer combine the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Add the dry mixture to this and beat until just combined - do not overbeat.
4. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases - half fill the cases or you will get muffin tops (heh, a little low fat irony for you)
5. Bake for 20 minutes then remove and cool in the tins for 5 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool completely and ice as you wish (thus negating the low-fattyness!)

scrummy chocolate swirl shortbread

another beautiful recipe from one of the best presents I ever got, these shortbreads are so simple to make and undeniably sublime to scrobble down to your belly place. They take only 20 minutes to prepare, but you have to chill the dough so they are not a super quick treat, but if you have a spare hour then they can be yours!
Shortbread 1
150g plain flour
1/2tsp salt
50g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, room temp
Shortbread 2
125g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1/2tsp salt
50g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, room temp
100g dark chocolate, chopped into rough smallish pieces (I have used various chocolates, the green & blacks maya gold is especially lovely)
1. Preheat the oven to 150C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper
2. To make the first shortbread sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture combines, knead lightly, then place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
3. Make the second shortbread by following the same steps, but including the cocoa with the flour. Again place in the fridge to chill.
4. Roll out both doughs on a lightly floured surface, roll into equally sized rectangles about 1cm thick.
5. Place the plain shortbread onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and place the chocolate shortbread on top; scatter the chopped dark chocolate over the top.
6. Using the greaseproof paper, roll the shortbread like a swiss-roll, rolling with the longest side. Don't worry if it breaks or if the chocolate pokes through, all part of the rustic charm. Once you have it rolled into a log, roll it a bit more to make it longer, but not too much. Pinch in the ends to prevent the chocolate falling out.
7. If you are making this in the middle of summer, or if you have your heating on furnace settings, you may want to pop it back in the fridge to firm up a bit more...if not, proceed...
8. Using a sharp knife slice the log into 1cm thick slices. Place onto the lined baking trays and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack before scoffing lots of them with a cup of tea.

chocolate peanut butter cake

my cake day was looming at work, pondering my options I once again returned to the sublime smitten kitchen for inspiration. And this be the result...
The Cake
2 cups plain flour
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2tbsp white vinegar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 175C. Line the bottoms of 2 (or 3 for super specialness, i have not three pans of the same size, I also do not have endless patience at 10pm on a wednesday...)
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a cake mixer (cough...kitchenaid...cough), whisk to combine them well.
3. Add the oil and sour cream, continue blending and gradually beat in the water. Add the vinegar and vanilla then whisk in the eggs until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat again.
4. Divide between the prepared cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes (longer and cooler if just two pans), or until a knife comes out almost clean when inserted. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks and allow to cool totally before removing the paper bottoms.
The Filling - peanut butter frosting
10 oz cream cheese, room temp
4 oz unsalted butter, room temp
5 cups sifted icing sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually add the icing sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing well with each addition - scrape down the bowl often.
3. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, for about 4 minutes
4. Add the peanut butter and beat until fully incorporated
The Covering - chocolate peanut butter glaze (make after frosting the cake)
8oz dark chocolate, broken up
3tbsp smooth peanut butter
2tbsp golden syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half...not being american I used the following substitute: 2/3 cup skimmed milk & 1/3 cup double cream
1. In a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter and golden syrup. Heat, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the "half-and-half", beating until smooth. Use whilst still warm, yum.
The Assembly
1. Use half the peanut butter frosting to fill the cake between the layers, then cover the top and sides with a crumb layer. Put the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes then use the rest of the frosting to coat the cake completely...pop this back in the fridge then make the glaze.
2. Put the chilled cake on some greaseproof paper and pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Use a spatula to spread it evenly over the top; if you want it to drip down all nice the spread just to the edges so that it drips down, I smothered it totally for ease of transport to work.
3. Chill the cake until about 1 hour before serving

Sunday, 2 November 2008

red velvet cake

I have been wanting to find an excuse to make this cake since steel magnolia's, and finally an opportunity presented itself in the form of a halloween/birthday shindig! yes yes. what could be more ghoulish than cutting through pristine white icing to a blood red cake, that's right, not much!

I have spent a loooong old time googling red velvet cake recipes, well, all recipes really, but I think red v-cake has taken up a large portion of said google time. I eventually settled on the recipes posted by Smitten Kitchen, no idea how I come to choose recipes, perhaps it is the reassuring photos...? hmmm. anyhoo I forged ahead, one quick trip to the dreaded asda...who of course did not have any red food dye. I hate that stupid shop, they have no concept of stock taking. And so I braved the torrential rain that was upon brighton to run to the co-op where I bought their entire stock of red food dye, all five bottles, and returned triumphant to my kitchen.


Cake Batter

3 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 cups cocoa powder

1 1/2tsp salt

2 cups canola oil – I substituted with vegetable oil to great success!

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

6tbsp red food dye

1 1/2tsp vanilla essence

1 1/4 cup buttermilk – if you can’t get this then use regular milk and add 1tbsp lemon, leave for 10mins

2tsp baking soda

2 1/2tsp white vinegar


8oz cream cheese, room temperature

115g butter, room temperature – almost to the point of melty melty

3 cups icing sugar

1tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 170C/350F, grease and line your cake tins. This recipe calls for 3x9” tins, but I used 2x8” then cut each in half to make a 4 layer cake If you do this then reduce the heat by 10 degrees and cook for 10-20mins longer.

2. Sift the plain flour, cocoa and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

3. Place the oil and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and blend at a medium speed until well combined.

4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well to combine.

5. With the machine on a very low speed carefully add the red food dye then the vanilla.

6. Finally add the dry mix alternately with the butter milk in three batches; scrape the bowl down and beat again to combine.

7. Place the baking soda in a small dish and add the vinegar, stir and add immediately to the batter, beat for 10 seconds.

8. Pour the batter into your prepared cake tins and place in the centre of the oven, bake for 40-50minutes – or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.

9. Carefully remove the tins to some cooling racks, leave for 20mins then turn out the cakes (I have invested in some decent sprinform pans that make this so much easier!), peel off the baking paper and leave to cool completely whilst making your frosting.

10. Place the cream cheese and butter in a mixer bowl and beat until light and fluffy and well combined. Add the sugar and vanilla. Beat on a low speed to combine, iff too soft then pop in the fridge to harden for 15mins. Add more icing sugar if you want it to be sweeter.

Frosting Tips: If you have made two big layers then slice these in half, if not then just proceed…If you have the time then it may be a good idea to chill the cake in the fridge before frosting, it is then easier to brush off the crumbs. When icing a multi-layer cake put less icing on the bottom layers, and leave a large gap at the edge of the cake as the weight of the other layers will push the frosting outwards, and we don’t want too much oooooze now do we?! I made less frosting and then covered the cake in white fondant icing, but this is up to you!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

iced sugar cookies

these little beauties are incredibly simple to make and lend them selves to a variety of shapes and icing formats. And in what format did I bake them for my market stall? well...I halved the dough and did one batch of simple iced circles and stars, and the other half as hearts iced with a lemon glaze and pink sugar edging.
the dough has to sit in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out so don't forget to work this into your timing if you are making them last minute...I have a number of recipes for these cookies, but the one I have used the most is from Joy of Baking, which makes 36 cookies.
490g plain flour
1/4tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
227g unsalted butter, room temperature
300g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder
2. With an electric mixer or hand mixer cream the softened butter and add the sugar, beat for a further 3 minutes
3. Add the eggs ad vanilla gradually and incorporate fully
4. Slowly add the dry mix on a low speed and beat until you have a smooth dough - it may seem quite sticky, this is fine, leave it for a minute then halve it and wrap in cling film, chill in the fridge for at least one hour. If you have time then you can make the dough a day in advance a leave overnight.
5. Preheat the oven to 176C/350F...though as mine is craaaazy hot I put it at 170C, with the racks in the centre of the oven. Line two baking trays with baking paper (I just bought two silicone baking mats, which are awesome! and save me soooooo much paper, and I am a tree fan)
6. Remove one half of the dough from the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to just under 1cm (I do mine about 5-8mm and they are fine, I find 1cm a touch big).
7. Using your cookie cutter of choice cut out shapes from the dough, if you flour the cutter you may find this easier, and transfer to the baking sheets.
8. Bake the cookies for 10mins - or until just starting to lightly brown on the edges - then transfer to a cooling rack. Once all the first half of the dough is used, get the second out and repeat - this keeps the dough all nice and cool while you do the first batch.
9. Ice the cookies as you wish...For the market I made up some simple red and blue icings; icing sugar, a few drops of dye and then dribbles of water til it reaches a decent spreading consistency. For the hearts I made an undyed icing with icing sugar and water, the rolled the edges of the hearts in pink granulated sugar (just drip a drop of dye into some sugar and mix it all about!)...
and for halloween, little pumpkin shaped goodies for the mini-trick or treaters that visit each year...

coffee and doughnut cupcakes

as inspired by the amazing chockylit, I think these are possibly the most outlandishly awesome cupcakes ever. The trick is in the eating (isn't it always?)...dipping the mini doughnut in the creamy icing, scoffing that down and then slowly consuming the intensely coffeesome cupcake...mmm, hmmm..delish!
I used the cupcake recipe from chockylit, and found a yeast-free doughnut recipe for the mini toppers...making these was hilarious, there were quite a few mutants at first as I tested out sizes and volume but in the end I pressed out little rounds with the large end of a piping nozzle (about 1.5cm diameter) and the cut out the middle with the smaller end, then pushed the dough over the nozzle to make a larger hole. Success!
Cupcakes - makes 19
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
375g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
1/8tsp salt
1tbsp coffee grounds - I blitzed these up a bit more, and used a very strong roast
1/2 cup (4 floz) strong brewed coffee - I have a stove top espresso maker and used this, so it is pretty strong
1/4 cup (2 floz) and 2 tbsp milk
6 floz double cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Doughnuts - makes about 30 mini ones, or 19 and some mutants
250g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1tsp salt
1tbsp baking powder
1/4tsp cinnamon
1/8tsp nutmeg
30g butter - melted
1/2 cup (4 floz) milk
1 egg - beaten
lots of oil for frying
cinnamon & caster sugar mixed and in a shallow dish, to toss the doughnuts in - optional, but nice!
1. Beat the butter until soft and creamy, then gradually add the sugar and continue beating for about 3 minutes until light & fluffy
2. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to beat until well incorporated between each addition
3. In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and coffee grounds
4. Add the milk and cooled, brewed coffee together so you can add them combined
5. Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the milk/coffee mix, ending with the dry mix and beating well to incorporate with each addition
6. Fill the cupcake cases about 3/4 full and bake in a preheated oven at 175C for 20-25 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean when inserted), remove and cool on a rack
1. Whisk the cream until thick, add the sugar then beat again until the cream is able to form very stiff peaks
2. Pipe onto the cooled cakes in swirls using a star tipped nozzle
1. Heat oil in a deepish very thick frying pan, or deep fryer to 375F/180C...I do not have a thermometer, so I just let it heat up and did a test blob of dough...
2. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices into a large bowl
3. Mix in the melted butter with a knife, then add the milk and egg, stir in again
4. Using floured hands, knead the dough lightly - you may need to add more flour, just add a bit at a time until you are happy that the dough is not too sticky
5. Turn out onto a well floured surface and pat to a 1/4 inch thickness
6. Cut out using a floured cutter, or piping nozzle!
7. VERY carefully drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, a few at a time, and fry - turning once - for about 3 minutes or until golden brown
8. Toss in the cinnamon sugar and place on kitchen roll to drain
9. Place on top of the piped topping and serve!

the merchant market or a work based bake off!

a market was announced at work, so I thought a nice wee cake stall of delights and delectations would go down well...and so it did! I spent 1 1/2 days baking, which I loved loved loved! hah, so much better than sitting at a computer all day...I was surrounded by yummy smells and ingredients, listening to plays on radio four in my kitchen all day...knackering but brilliant!
I made a variety of treats for sale; coffee & doughnut cupcakes, boston cream pie & coconut cream pie cupcakes, iced sugar cookies, flaked almond cookies, gluten free spiced shortbread, orange butter biscuits and dark chocolate ginger cookies, chocolate macaroons....and....rocky road!
I also started promoting my Christmas Treat Boxes, which I hope to get some orders for - everyone likes a nice home baked cookie at crimble time don't they? Hope so!
The recipes will be forthcoming...

Thursday, 25 September 2008

chocolatey chocolate chocolate cake with...chocolate

birthday cakes should always be exactly said birthday persons favourite cake, and no one likes a birthday person more than one who likes chocolatey chocolate chocolate cake, with extra chocolate. hell no.
so, this is actually the Magnolia bakery chocolate muffin recipe, but spilt between two 8" cake tins rather than 24 muffin cases..baked cooler for longer. And oh my is it ever lovely! Previous incarnations have involved a covering of chocolate fudge icing and then surrounded in a fence of chocolate fingers...two packs are exactly the right amount if you are interested, so don't do what I did and munch two thinking it won't matter...yes, yes it will. but then all it means is you have more chocolate fingers in the house, and I for one can not see how this is a bad thing.
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (226g) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed soft light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temp...mine never are and as yet I see no difference...
6oz melted and cooled dark chocolate
1 cup buttermilk..if you can not get buttermilk, just add a tbsp lemon juice to milk and sit for 5 mins..this is waaaaay cheaper then buying actual buttermilk so I just do this anyway
1 tsp vanillla extract
1. Preheat oven to 176C/350F if making muffins, if making the cake then turn it down a jot to about 165/170C, depending on how hot your oven cooks, mine is insane so I put mine lower
2. Line either two 12-cup muffin tins or 2 8" cake tins and set aside
3. Put your chocolate on to melt, in a bowl over simmering water
4. In a large bowl beat the butter until smooth for a few minutes, then add the sugars and beat for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy
5. Add the eggs one at a time, beat each in until well incorporated before adding the next. Your chocolate should be ok to remove form the heat now and leave to chill.
6. Add the cooled chocolate, mixing until well incorporated
7. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition ensure it is fully incorporated but do not overbeat.
8. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula...I recently bought a silicone one, they are awesome! Make sure all ingredients are blended and the butter is smooth.
9. Spoon into the muffin cases or divide into the cake tins..if making a cake then drop the tins a few times to make sure there is not too much air in the batter or you will have a magic vanishing cake that is all top and no middle
10. Bake the muffins for 20-25 mins and the cake for 30-40 mins, or until a skewer, when inserted, comes out clean
11. Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for 15 minutes before turning out onto a coolin rack to cool completely
Icing - if making muffins you can ice with either vanilla buttercream or chocolate buttercream. As this is chocolatey chocolate chocolate cake I am icing with chocolate ganache, just for that extra chocolate that it may be lacking in.
Chocolate Ganache, as used for filling the chocolate macaroons:
180ml double cream
300g plain chocolate
90g unsalted butter
Heat all the ingredients in a pan until the chocolate is just melted, remove from the heat and whisk until thick. Spread joyously over the cake to sandwich together and cover...any left over ganache you can the roll into balls to make truffles, which can then be used to decorate said cake!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

pineapple upside-down cupcakes

a more portable version of this splendid cake...upside-down cake, ha! brilliant. not ever having made the larger version I was in unchartered territory, but from the reactions of my trusty tasters it was pineapple perfection!
This recipe makes 12 cakes, didn't want to make a enormous batch of duds, but you can double up to get a nice wholesome amount...
3 tins pineapple rings in juice NOT syrup - this should give you more than enough rings to play with
1/2 cup (4oz) butter
1/2 cup soft light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (4oz) butter
2 cups plain flour - sifted
2 eggs
1 cup pineapple juice
3tsp baking powder
2tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
2. Grease a 12cup muffin tin lightly, with oil (I just use a pastry brush to coat the cups)
3. Open your pineapple tins and drain the juice into a jug, you need a cups worth of this so don't forget and drink it all like I did then have to go and get some more!
4. Cut 1/3 out of the pineapple rings so that they sit into the bottom of the muffin tins and reform a mini may need to experiment to get this just right! Repeat to fill all the cups
5. In a small saucepan melt the butter and sugar over a low heat, cook for 5 minutes and stir to combine whilst it thickens
6. Pour the syrup over the pineapple rings, I used a dessert spoon which was enough to just cover the fruit in the muffin tin, which is what you want. Set this to one side
7. Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the egg and vanilla, beating again until well incorporated
8. Add the baking soda, and then add the flour alternating with the pineapple juice, letting each addition mix in well before adding the next
9. Pour the batter over the fruit in the muffin tin, filling the cups 3/4 full
10. Bake for 20 minutes in the centre of the oven
11. Remove and cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a rack
12. Invert onto a baking rack or chopping board that is larger than the muffin tin...if you use a rack pop some kitchen towel under to catch any drips
...These can be served fresh from the oven with ice cream, or cold just as they are

chocolate fudge cake

a moist and immensely chocobountilful wonder cake, especially with the icing slathered all over it and in its middle...mmmmhmmm!
of course, it is another delight from Nigella, and is always saved for special purposes. I once made one with increased volumes for a friends birthday that was pretty much a behemoth of a cake, it lasted quite a while...the present that keeps on giving
400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50g cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
142ml/one small tub of sour cream......though asda seem to have rounded up to 150ml just to torment me yet further, damn them
1tbsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml corn oil - I substitute for sunflower oil and all is well
300ml chilled water
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
2. Grease and line two 20cm springform cake tins
3. In a large bowl sift the flour and mix in the sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and the salt
4. In a smaller bowl or wide measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla
5. Using a cake mixer, freestanding or handheld...or kitchenaid...beat together the melted butter and the oil until just blended, then add the water and beat in
6. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix (on a low speed to prevent a flour cloud)
7. Add the egg mixture and beat to combine, scrap down the bowl to make sure all in Incorporated
8. Pour into the prepared cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 50minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted
9. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15minutes, then turn out to cool completely
fudge icing
175g dark chocolate (min 70%)
250g unsalted butter, softened
275g icing sugar
1tbsp vanilla extract
1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, leave to cool slightly
2. Cream the butter with your cake mixer, then sift in the icing sugar and beat to combine on a low speed
3. Add the vanilla and cooler chocolate, beat in thoroughly
4. Spread just over 1/3 onto the bottom cake layer and sandwich the top layer on, brush off any crumbs then spread the rest over the top and sides of the cake - this will give you a pretty thick covering...hurrah!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

chocolate macaroons

making cheesecake and creme patissiere means lots of left over egg whites, and what better way to use these up than with the little delights that are chocolate macaroons? exactly.
this recipe makes about 100 rounds, so 50 macaroons if you do small blobs (about 3cm across) or you can make bigger rounds (about 5cm across).
500g icing sugar
250g ground almonds
50g cocoa
50g caster sugar
8 large egg whites
180ml double cream
300g dark chocolate (70% minimum)
90g unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, with the shelves in the middle
2. Line baking trays with baking paper; I only have two trays so I just cut out lots of sheets so I could pipe out the mixture all at once and then just swap the sheets over once one batch was cooked
3. Into a large bowl sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder, then add the ground almonds
4. Using a food mixer whisk the egg whites until half-stiff, then gradually add the caster sugar, continuing to whisk until the egg whites are stiff, but not dry (do the old 'if I turn the bowl upside down over my head does it fall on me' trick...)
5. Gradually add the dry mixture, gently folding it into the whites until just combined
6. Fit an icing bag with a 1cm piping nozzle, twist and peg the end and prop up in a pint glass
7. Spoon some mixture into the piping bag, enough to be getting along with but not so much that it sqoodges over the top when you try to grasp it...that's just wasteful
8. Pipe your rounds onto the baking paper - you could draw circles out first if you are not 100% confident. To get smooth tops I hold the nozzle to the paper at an angle, which makes the mixture smoodge together in a nice smooth topped round
9. Leave the rounds to stand for 20 minutes; this lets them form a skin on the top which makes them crunchy on top and chewy underneath - just right
10. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until dry on top but chewy underneath
11. Remove from the baking sheets to cooling racks, do this as soon as possible or they may stick a bit too much to the paper
12. Whilst cooking/cooling the macaroons make your filling of chocolate ganache buy heating all ingredients in a pan on a low heat; remove when the chocolate is just melted and whisk to thicken. Leave this to cool - it will become much thicker once cooled don't worry
13. When all is cool, pair up similar sized rounds and sandwich them together with the chocolate ganache
14. Eat them.

inside-out carrot cake cookies

mmmmhmmm! carrot cake is awesome, cookies are awesome...the
genius that thought of combining the two should be given a giant medal made of cake.
These are exceedingly nice, if I made them again I think I might use dark muscavado sugar rather than light, just to get a deeper colour but here is the recipe I used this time (I doubled the amounts as the below only makes 15 whole cookies)
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium) 1 scant cup walnuts (3 oz), chopped 1/2 cup raisins (2 1/2 oz)
8oz cream cheese
icing sugar
lemon juice
1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 180C. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper
2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl
3. Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes
4. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined
5. Drop 1/2 dessert spoon of batter per cookie, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets and bake. Switching position of th sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 10 - 12 minutes total
6. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely
7. While cookies are baking, blend cream cheese with sieved icing sugar and lemon juice until you get the sweetness you like, chill this in the fridge
8. Once cool sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling

london cheesecake

A request from a friend at work, for her last day, and I was more than happy to oblige. This cheesecake is from Nigella Lawson and is incredibly simple and delicious.
I was mystified for years about the infamous 'Bain-Marie', it sounded so exotic and like something I could never of course felt rather a plum when I realised it is just a water bath...D'oh.
I make a larger version of this cake using a 24" springform pan and the recipe below shows the volumes for this.
For the base...
200g digestive biscuits or ginger nuts
100g unsalted butter - melted
For the filling...
800g cream cheese (I use light just to make you feel a bit better!)
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
For the topping...
200ml sour cream
1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1. Process the biscuits until they are fine crumbs; if you don't have a food processor pop them in a bag, cover with a tea towel and bash to bits with a rolling pin.
2. Melt the butter and stir this into the crumbed biscuits, press this into the bottom of the springform pan using your hands (I do not line mine, but do so if you are worried about sticking); pop this in the fridge to chill
3. Preheat the oven to 180C
4. Beat the cream cheese in a food mixer until smooth, then add the sugar. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, then the vanilla and lemon juice. Scrape round the bowl with a spatula at regular intervals to make sure all the cream cheese is mixing with the rest of the ingredients
5. Put a full kettle on to boil
6. Take the chilled tin from the fridge and double wrap the bottom and sides in strong tin foil in two large pieces
7. Place the tin in a roasting dish, and pour in the lemon filling mix
8. Pour the boiling water into the roasting tin so that it comes half way up the sides of the cake tin
9. Most incredibly carefully place this into the middle of the oven and cook for 50 minutes
10. After 50 minutes it should feel set, but not completely, just enough to pour the topping over. Whisk together the sour cream, vanilla and sugar and pour over the cheesecake - return to the oven for 10 minutes
11. Remove the roasting tin from the oven, and super carefully remove the springform tin. Unwrap it and leave on a cooling rack to cool, I place an old tea towel underneath to catch any drips of melted goo that might eek out. When cooled completely place in the fridge, remove 20 minutes before unmoulding and serving and heat a knife with boiling water to cut.
I added halved strawberries to the top of mine, and then made a coulis with the rest of the punnet for pouring over the slices...