A birthday bake for Mr B – Homemade Jaffa Cakes

It was Mr B’s birthday this week and as he hadn’t really asked for anything in particular I decided that a birthday bake would be a lovely surprise for when he got home from work. We are both massive foodies and complement each other really well in the kitchen – his cooking skills are far superior to mine and he regularly produces the most delicious dinners for us. Baking is, of course, more my forte and my skills in this area are, I think, one of the main reasons he married me!

Instead of baking a traditional birthday cake this year, I decided to reproduce one of his favourite sweet snacks – Jaffa Cakes, something which he can quite easily demolish a box of if given the chance. I love the idea of trying to recreate a homemade version of a shop-bought snack as I know that the end result is ultimately going to be better as there won’t be any artificial flavourings or preservatives in it so it will be so much more tasty.

By pure chance I didn’t even have to search for a recipe, as one of my favourite foodie bloggers Jo from Every Nook and Cranny just happened to share her recipe for Jaffa Cakes on her Facebook page in the week running up to hubby’s birthday. With my baking I always try to use the best ingredients and it was definitely worth the extra money I spent on buying the best oranges I could find (in this case from Waitrose) as the jelly was made from the pure juice, freshly squeezed from these delicious fruits. We are lucky at home that we have a masticating juicer and so I was able to extract a lot of juice from each orange and only needed to use 2 as they were very juicy but even if you don’t have a juicer, a traditional hand press squeezer (the metal kind most of us have in the kitchen) is perfectly fine but might mean you end up using a few more oranges than I did. I certainly wouldn’t suggest cheating and using pre-squeezed juice as the fresh produces a really rich flavour which is definitely worth the effort.

FB Jaffa Cakes orange jelly

Ready to make orange jelly 

Definitely worth the effort – look at that delicious juice 

I had thought that it might be a little bit fiddly to create these delicious snacks but actually it was surprisingly easy albeit a little time consuming as the three distinct steps – making the jelly, baking the sponge bases and covering these in melted chocolate each took a little bit of time and required some patience as the sponges needed to be cool and the chocolate not too hot before it could over the jelly.  As recommended by Jo I chose to use a ‘whoopie pie’ pan to make the sponges as it created a flatter bake. I found a mould fairly cheaply on Amazon as I didn’t already have one and would say it is really worth investing in if you plan to make these again (which I certainly will) as you wouldn’t get the correct shaped bases otherwise.  I will, however, share my handy tip for finding a cutter that is small enough for the jelly discs that sit on top, if like me you don’t have one – use a lid from an empty spice jar, it was the perfect size.

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Perfect golden discs – and only 8 minutes to cook them!

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Perfect jelly discs made with my make-shift spice lid cutter

Once all the steps are prepared – jelly set, sponges cooled and chocolate melted, the fun really begins as the Jaffa Cakes finally come to life as these separate parts are combined. I approached this final step with trepidation as I wanted them to turn out perfect however it was much easier than I expected thankfully. I finished them about an hour before Mr B came home from work which was just enough time for the chocolate to set. I am so pleased with the results and can happily report that Mr B loved them too and they are almost all gone only a day later!

 

Just like the real thing – only better as they are homemade

If you haven’t already checked out Jo’s blog I thoroughly recommend it – I regularly head there for baking inspiration for and am never disappointed. As well as sharing recipes for sweet treats she also has some delicious savoury recipes if that is more your thing so grab a cup of something warm and get yourself over there to see what you can find.

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An autumnal weekend bake – Apple & Cinnamon Crumble Cake

Apple & Cinnamon Crumble Cake

As I sit writing this you could be mistaken for thinking that summer is here to stay as the sunshine is streaming through the window and there are glimpses of blue sky peeking through the clouds. However this week has certainly had more of an autumnal feel – jumpers have been on, pregrudgingly the heating was put on a couple of evenings ago and the duvet is back on the bed (this I love though as it is so cosy).

Bedford CollageThe last of the Summer? Enjoying blue sky’s over Bedford this weekend

I love autumn – the changing colours, the crispness in the air and an excuse to put on cosy clothes are perfect reasons to love the season.  I find the autumn to be a more predictable season, British summers are more often than not slightly disappointing but at least once it reaches September and autumn approaches we know what to expect and are rarely disappointed, occasionally we are even surprised by a late ‘Indian summer’.

With an autumnal feel in the air this week and a few days at home with the hubby I decided a bit of baking was in order this weekend.  Mr B was treating me to a delicious dinner and I though the least I could do was treat him to his choice of pudding in return.  His favourite type of pud usually involves something that includes apples and as I did not have the inclination to make pastry I decided to go for an Autumnal Apple & Cinnamon Crumble Cake.

After a bit of searching online, I found a recipe on the BBC Good Food website for an Apple Crumble Loaf. However, being a bit of a baking maverick, I did not stick religiously to the recipe and made some adaptations of my own. With online recipes I always think it is sensible to take note of what other people think of the recipe and any advice they can offer. As Frances over at Frances Bakes discussed on her blog last week some recipes online are not reliable and, unless you have experience on your side as a baker, you can be left disheartened and disappointed when poor instructions lead to a poor outcome.   I therefore always check the ratings a recipe has been given and take a glance at the comments from other people who have used the recipe.

The main advice from multiple comments was to cook it for longer and to increase the spice level.  I do consider myself to be a fairly experienced home baker and will generally make a few little tweaks to a recipe if I feel it is necessary, so when I had glanced at the ingredients list I had already decided that 2 teaspoons of spice in a 2lb cake would definitely not be enough. Also the cake only asked for mixed spice but, as many of the other bakers had also noted, cinnamon is a much better partner for apple so with this in mind I doubled the amount of mixed spice and added the same amount of cinnamon to the recipe. I am also not really a fan of adding milk to a recipe unless absolutely needed and so decided to add an extra apple and a banana (for sweetness) to the mix. Finally, for the crumble topping I substituted the suggested chopped hazelnuts for some rolled oats to make a crumble that resembled my Mum’s homemade classic.

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The classic crumble topping mix 

The recipe came together fairly easily in two easy steps,  combining dry ingredients and then adding the wet. With the addition of the extra apple and mashed banana the consistency of the cake was perfect but I could definitely see why it would need the extra 20 mins cooking time as it is a fairly dense but moist mixture.   When making the crumble mixture I made the decision to double to amounts as it did not seem enough to cover the cake, however when it came to it an increase by only a half again would have been fine and this is what I will do next time for sure.

Apple & Cinnamon Crumble collage

Somehow with every recipe designed for a 2lb loaf tin I always seem to be left with a bit over (I think my tins are not quite 2lb perhaps) which suits Mr B perfectly as he always likes to have a taster as soon as possible.  This recipe left me with enough to make an additional three muffin sized cakes, however finding I did not have any muffin cases (they seemed to have been eaten by my kitchen cupboard!), I quickly made some make shift cases out of greaseproof. I was unsure of how the cakes would fair in these cases but they actually came out pretty well and unless it’s for a special occasion I might not bother with cases all the time from now on.

IMG_20150905_145608Home made cake cases – worked a treat

The fact that our tasters only took half the time to cook, due to their smaller size, suited Mr B perfectly and we soon enjoyed tucking into them with a cup of freshly brewed tea.  The finished cake was really delicious, it had a good rise and the fruit was well distributed (Paul and Mary would be pleased!). The apple and cinnamon combination made it a perfect autumnal bake and the more traditional crumble topping gave it a satisfying feeling of part cake/part pudding which means I think it would be perfect served with custard or ice cream if having it as a pud but just as good with a cup of tea like we did.  It’s lightness from the rise and the moistness from the fruit made it really moreish and the only reason there was some left on the day of baking was because Mr B’s delicious dinner filled us up.

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A tasty morsel of this yummy autumnal cake – it didn’t last long!

Apple and Cinnamon Crumble Cake

(makes 2lb loaf tin sized cake)

Ingredients

For the cake: 

140g butter, cut into small pieces

250g self-raising flour

1 rounded tbsp mixed spice

1 rounded tbsp ground cinnamon

140g light muscovado sugar

100g raisins

3 large eggs, beaten

3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (1cm cubes)

1 banana

For the crumble topping:

1.5 rounded tbsp plain flour

40g butter

40 light muscovado sugar

1.5 rounded tbsp rolled oats

Method

For the cake: 

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3.

Butter and line the bast of a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Put the flour and spices into a food processor and add the butter – whizz to fine breadcrumbs and then add the sugar (if you do not have a food processor use your fingers to make a fine crumble).

Add the raisins, beaten eggs, apple and banana to the dry ingredients and mix well until everything is evenly combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

For the crumble:

Rub the flour, butter and sugar through your fingers to make a rough crumble, then stir in the rolled oats.

Sprinkle evenly over the cake mixture.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 mins, until firm to the touch and a fine skewer in the centre comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.

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This will definitely be a recipe I return to and it met Mr B’s approval for an apple based bake so that’s a winner for me! I am looking forward to more adventures in the kitchen during the Autumn months, I think blackberries might be next on the agenda.

Have you been inspired by the changing seasons and made an Autumnal bake this weekend or do you fancy having a try at this recipe next weekend? Whatever you are baking I’d love to hear about it x