Recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Cake

Thank you to Linds at Pixie Hall Cakes for this fabulously seasonal recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Cake…

 

I love this time of year as there are lots of tasty things coming into season. I try to bake with seasonal ingredients as it means that everything is super tasty if it’s at its peak and also, it means that recipes are special if they’re only available at a certain time of year. I have a customer who keeps asking me about a certain apple cake I made in the autumn and whether I have it with me. I don’t. It’ll be back next autumn. You’ve got to leave people wanting more!

So this month I have used one of my favourite ingredients and it’s now in season and available all over the place (in case it’s not growing in your garden). It’s rhubarb! I know it’s a bit old fashioned but it’s super tasty and really quite versatile. It’s delicious in a pie (my mum makes an amazing rhubarb meringue pie which might be a recipe for another post) and makes a perfect crumble. I use the crumble idea to make a crumble cake which I think is a perfect combination! The rhubarb is paired with almond and vanilla for a subtle sweetness and a crumble topping is added to the cake before baking. The top goes crisp and crunchy while the cake is tender, moist and studded with tart rhubarb. It really is delicious!

Rhubarb Crumble Cake

Ingredients:

For the topping:

1tbsp cold butter

2tbsp self raising flour

1tbsp Demerara sugar

2tbsp chopped almonds

 

For the cake:

100g butter

200g sugar

3 eggs

100g plain yogurt

1tsp vanilla extract

1/2tsp almond extract

200g self raising flour

225g rhubarb, trimmed and finely sliced

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C then grease and line an 8 inch round pan.

To make the topping, put the butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir the sugar and almonds through the mixture and set aside.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition.

Add the yogurt along with the vanilla and almond extracts into the bowl and continue beating until smooth.

Fold the flour carefully into the batter until it is combined, then gently stir though most of the rhubarb.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scatter with remaining rhubarb and then sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the top.

Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed.

Allow to cool in the tin before transferring to a serving plate. This is (unsurprisingly) delicious served with custard or vanilla ice cream.

 

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

 

Recipe for Easter Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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Indulge in a spot of Easter baking with the children with these carrot cake cupcakes from Pixie Hall Cakes

Easter Cupckaes

There were lots of possibilities for this month’s recipe. With mothers’ day and St Patrick’s Day close together we could have had something pretty and flowery or something with Guinness or Baileys or lots of green. As you can see, I didn’t go for any of that (maybe next year!) and so, with Easter just around the corner, I thought I’d give you this great recipe for carrot cake cupcakes.

Carrot cake reminds me of Easter, spring and of my dad. It’s his favourite. I don’t actually make it very often (I’m a terrible daughter) so I made sure he got some of these when I’d made them. They have his seal of approval.

These are perfect to make with the kids. The cake recipe is slightly unusual (in the UK at least) in that it uses measuring cups rather than weight measures. I use cup measures all the time and would recommend purchasing a set if you intend to gather recipes from the internet. The vast majority of American recipes will use cups to measure the ingredients and there’s no easy way to convert from volume to weight measures. Aldiss has some gorgeous bright measuring cups.

The cupcakes are easy to make, the cream cheese topping is delicious and they are super easy to decorate. I used chocolate bunnies on mine but feel free to use whatever sweeties you like to make these beautiful.

Ingredients:

For the cakes

2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots (2 to 3 medium carrots)

 

For the frosting (from BBC Food)

150g softened butter

45g caster sugar

300g cream cheese (room temperature)

1/2 tsp vanilla

 

To decorate

Sprinkles

Chocolate bunnies

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, sugars, yoghurt and vanilla together until smooth and well combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold this gently into the egg mixture until just combined.

Add in the carrots and stir through carefully until evenly combined.

Divide the cake mixture evenly between the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and free from crumbs.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

To make the frosting, cream the sugar, vanilla and butter together until light and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with an electric beater/mixer. Beat in the cream cheese until smooth.

Spread the icing onto the cupcakes using a butter knife or palette knife. Pour your sprinkles into a shallow dish and the roll the edges of the frosted cupcakes into them to stick to the edges. Top with a chocolate bunny or other festive decoration.

 

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

 

Valentine’s Day Recipe for Heart Biscuits

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Love is in the air this Valentine’s with this recipe for heart biscuits from Pixie Hall Cakes

Valentines Heart Cookies

Ah February, this month is full of love and cuddling up on the cold, dark evenings and hoping that spring will soon arrive. There are snowdrops peeking through the frosty grass in the church yard and spring bulbs are just showing their bright green stems in the garden. It’s nearly here! Not too much longer!

First we’ll get to Valentine’s Day. I know it can be commercialised and cheesy. The shops at this time of year are full of red and pink, in anticipation for the big day. I must admit, we’re not really into Valentine’s Day in our house. I am, however, into twee baking with lots of cutesy hearts. I can’t help it! I’m a total sucker for novelty.

So, with this in mind I’ve made these heart biscuits for you this month. They take a little time to put together but they are incredibly cute. You need a really good heart cutter with crisp corners and rounded edges (mine wasn’t quite perfect so the hearts came out a little pointy at the top). You also need a little time set aside to chill the dough so that you can work with it easily. I got the idea for this recipe from Laurens Latest but changed up the recipe and method a little bit.

Ingredients:

115g softened butter

115g sugar

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla

200g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

Red food colouring

Method:

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with a mixer.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix again until thoroughly combined.

Stir in the flour and baking powder until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth.

Take one third of the dough and colour it red. You might need to use gloves for this or alternatively, pop the dough and the colouring into a sealable freezer bag and knead until thoroughly mixed.

Wrap both of the doughs in cling film and place in the fridge for around 30 minutes.

Take out the red dough and roll out thickly. Take your heart cutter and cut the dough and form the hearts into 2 stacks.

Take the plain dough and tear a couple of pieces off, roll them into sausages the same length as the heart stacks and pinch along one side to form a triangular shape. Stick these pieces in the cleft of the hearts (between the two rounded lumps at the top).

Roll out the rest of the vanilla dough and, starting at the point of the hearts, cover the outside with the dough and trim at the end. Squeeze the join together, gently round out the shape a little and pop them back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a couple of baking sheets with baking parchment. Using a sharp knife, slice the cookie logs into disks around 1/2cm thick. Place them on the baking sheet leaving a little room for the dough to spread.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until pale golden at the edges.

Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

 

Recipe for Apple and Date Slice

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If you are still sticking to your new year’s resolution of trying to eat healthier, then this recipe for a healthier treat from Pixie Hall Cakes is for you.

So here we are in 2015! I hope you have all recovered from the festive season and things are getting back to normal. I’m sure some of you will have resolved to get healthier this year and the last thing you want to think about is cake. Sorry. As someone who spends their time making all things chocolatey, sugary and sweet; I get a lot of hate at this time of year. People are convinced that I’m out to scupper their new healthy regimes and I promise, I’m not. I just believe that a healthy diet can still include cake. Just not a whole cake and not everyday. It’s all about moderation.

Now, that being said, I have a healthier recipe for you this month. Please note I say healthiER and not healthy. There is still sugar and butter in this cake and though it is in more modest quantities than a chocolate cake it is definitely there. I still wouldn’t recommend eating the whole thing in one sitting but you shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying a slice or 2.

My mum used to make a version of these date and apple slices when we were kids. They’re perfect for tucking into lunch boxes or for enjoying with a cup of tea mid morning (as I am doing while I write this). The mixture comes together really quickly with the use of a food processor but if you don’t have one, it’s easy to make by hand.

The wholemeal flour adds a delicious, nutty texture and flavour that you just can’t get with a refined flour and is a welcome addition. There is no sugar added to the filling so the flavour of the apples shines through and the sticky dates add a lovely chewy texture and toffee sweetness. There’s a certain simple charm to the flavours here and there wasn’t much that I changed from the ones my mum made all those years ago.

Recipe for Date and Apple Slice

Recipe for Apple and Date Slice

Ingredients

For the shortcake:

200g wholemeal flour

100g plain flour

Pinch of salt

150g butter, cubed

100g caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

2tbsp milk

 

For the filling:

2 large eating apples

1 tbsp lemon juice

100g dried dates

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 23cm square tin with baking parchment.

If you’re making these by hand:

Place the flours and salt into a large bowl and stir together, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, egg and milk until it forms a dough.

If you’re using a food processor:

Put the flours, salt, sugar and butter into the mixer and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and milk and pulse again until a dough is formed.

Knead the dough briefly on a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Press half the mixture into the base of the tin using you fingers and make sure it is even.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and place them into a bowl with the lemon juice. Chop the dates (I find it easiest to use scissors) into the bowl and mix together until well coated with the juice.

Spread the apples and dates over the shortcake base in an even layer. Crumble the rest of the shortcake dough over the top of the apples and gently press down. It doesn’t matter if there is some filling showing through the gaps but try and press the dough together so it holds when you slice it up later.

Bake the slices or 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin. Slice into 9 or 12 and enjoy!

 

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

Homemade Mincemeat and Mincemeat Cookies

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A lovely festive blog for you from Pixie Hall Cakes for homemade mincemeat and mincemeat cookies.

 

I’ve got a bit of a treat for you this month. I’ve got two recipes for you and they are both really easy but totally tasty!

Having covered the much loved Christmas cake last year, it was decided that a mincemeat recipe would be appropriate for this year’s festive offering. It’s a real love it or hate it thing and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I love it! I’ll also give you a recipe for mincemeat cookies in case you’re sick of mince pies!

I’ve been making my own mincemeat for years now and there’s really nothing quite like it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with shop bought but it just doesn’t compare to the real deal. Also, you can customise your homemade batch with whatever fruit you like so it’s guaranteed to be tasty.

Mincemeat is so traditional at this time of year. It’s full to the brim with all the dried fruit, spices and booze that we associate with Christmas. It’s fairly well known that in the 15th-17th centuries, mincemeat recipes contained actual meat along with the fruit. While this may not be to today’s tastes, it reminds me of the flavours found in Moroccan tagines. It was the Victorians who turned sweet, fruity mincemeat (along with many other things) into a yuletide treat. I’m really glad they did!

My mincemeat recipe involves cooking the mixture. This isn’t necessarily traditional but it means that the flavours really meld together and the mixture can be used immediately without the need to let the mincemeat mature. Another benefit of this is that the house will smell amazing while it’s cooking and is guaranteed to put you in the festive mood! You have a choice in the way your cook it. I use a slow cooker because it’s easy and I’m lazy. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook it on low in the oven. It works perfectly either way. Remember you can swap and adjust the fruits you use but make sure you keep the total weight the same.

On to the recipes

Homemade MincemeatMincemeat

Ingredients
450g cooking apples
115g candied peel
115g glacé cherries
115g dried apricots
115g blanched almonds
150ml rum (or brandy, sloe gin or any other spirit you fancy)
225g dried cranberries
225g sultanas
450g raisins
225g brown sugar
225g suet (I used vegetable suet)
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground allspice
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp nutmeg
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange

Method
Peel, core and chop the apples, cherries, apricots and almonds. Place into the slow cooker or into a large, heatproof casserole dish.
Put 75ml of the rum and the rest of the ingredients into the pot and stir until thoroughly mixed.
If you’re using a slow cooker, cover the mixture and cook on high for 1 hour. Stir the mixture well then recover and reduce the temperature to low. Cook for a further 2 hours stirring halfway through to prevent the mincemeat from sticking to the sides of the cooker.

If you’re using the oven, preheat it to 110C. Cover your dish loosely with foil and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Once cooked, stir the rest of the rum into the mixture and leave the mixture to cool completely stirring occasionally. Once cool, spoon into sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

 

Mincemeat Cookies

These are a quick and easy treat and will be popular with grownups and kids alike! This recipe makes around 12 cookies but scales up easily to make more should you wish to.

Mincemeat CookiesIngredients:

125g butter, melted
100g dark brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
150g flour
Pinch of salt
½ tsp baking soda
12 tsp mincemeat

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C and line 3 trays with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together until smooth.

Stir in the flour, salt and baking soda and mix until fully incorporated.

Take a walnut ball sized pice of dough (I like to use a medium ice cream scoop for this so the cookies are all the same size) and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball in the palm of your hand and place a teaspoon of mincemeat into the centre. Carefully mould the dough around the filling and seal tightly. Shape the dough into a ball again and place on the tray before very slightly flattening it. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes until puffed and golden. Allow to cool thoroughly before eating – mincemeat gets hot!

 

Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

 

 

In Celebration of the Bake Off

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Thank you Pixie Hall Cakes for diverting from your monthly recipe blog to enlighten us all in the ways of the bake off and inviting us to take part in one!

 

I can’t believe it’s been a year already. You’ve had 12 months of tasty recipes and hopefully useful tips and techniques and I’ve loved sharing them with you. Things are slightly different this month but rest assured, a new recipe will be on its way next month.

This month I want to talk about Bake Offs (I’m not sure if that’s the correct pluralisation but I’m sticking with it).

The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens which is a sure sign that summer is in full swing.  The nation collectively despairs at soggy bottoms, basks in the glory of perfectly risen cakes and swoons over beautiful and creative decoration. I do too. People assume that I must roll my eyes at the silly mistakes that contestants make (remember that bloke who used salt instead of sugar in his cake?) or huff and sigh at the way some things are put together. Honestly though, I feel for them. I’ve made stupid mistakes (I forgot the sugar in a cake quite recently) and I’m always keen to learn new skills so I will always have a nosey at the way in which people work. I love it.

While we watch these 12 lucky people strut their baking skills on TV, how do the rest of us get involved? Baking competitions have been around a lot longer than the TV show has. Country shows, village fetes and town halls have been venues for local people to show off their perfect cakes between tables of identical onions, giant marrows and perfect flowers.  People have long been entering their cakes in the hope of winning a sought after rosette. There’s something special about being able to show people what you can do and cake is such a universally loved medium that I think there’s no better way!

And so, I segue into some information for you. I am hosting a Bake Off at this year’s Fakenham Food Festival to be held at Fakenham Fair on 23rd August at the Millennium park.

Fakenham Bake Off Poster

 

Fakenham Bake Off PrizeI’m inviting you to put on your pinny, whip out your whisk and get baking! There are 3 age ranges for contestants; under 10, 11-16 and 17+ (adults!) so you can get your kids baking in the summer holidays or even enter yourself. We’ve also got some fantastic prizes for the winning cakes. Aldiss have really kindly donated some of these prizes including some gorgeous Emma Bridgewater cake tins and really cute baking kits complete with a tin to store your finished treats in.

 

 

To enter; bring your entry (either 6 cupcakes or 1 whole cake) to the Bake Off Tent by 1pm on 23rd August and fill in the entry card you’re given. A panel of judges (including me!) will taste each entry and choose the winners! It’s as simple as that!

So, dust off your mixing bowls and bring out the wooden spoons. It’s time to get Fakenham baking!

Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

www.pixiehallcakes.co.uk

Recipe for Summer Berry Flan

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This week’s guest blog is a recipe for a delightful Summer Berry Flan from Pixie Hall Cakes

 

I write this post from amongst a sea of paper, ribbon and other crafty accoutrements as I prepare for my wedding! I’m up against it to get everything finished in time to enjoy the day and the week of holiday afterwards, but wanted to make sure you had a recipe for July and as such, I chose something that would fit in at my wedding quite nicely! We’re having a picnic after our ceremony with family and close friends and this little cake would be perfect to share al fresco. Topped with berries at the peak of their season (and therefore their flavour), this cake looks as good as it tastes. Sweet with the sponge and jam, tart with the raspberries and bursting with summer flavours!

It’s also pretty easy (you’ll be glad to hear). The recipe is an all in one method which produces a soft, vanilla sponge with a dense enough texture for it to hold the fruit and jam without getting soggy. You can use whatever fruit you like here. I opted for summer berries but it would be delicious with peaches or nectarines, more exotic fruit like pineapple or mango (dried off on a bit of kitchen roll to prevent getting a soggy cake) or even with apple sauce in place of the jam and topped off with big ripe blackberries.

The cake does require a little carving, I’d advise you do that with a frozen (or even chilled) cake to make it easier.  Use a small, serrated knife and small strokes to maintain control. You’re basically creating a cake tray/bowl with a lip around the edge to hold the fruit filling.  If you don’t want to carve the cake, slice it in half and fill in with the berries and jam.

 

Summer Berry FlanSummer Berry Flan

Ingredients:

150g Corn Flour
70g Plain Flour
2 tsps Baking Powder
200g Sugar
Pinch of Salt
125g Butter, melted
4 eggs
4 tbsp Jam (I used a seedless strawberry jam)
Mixed berries to top

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Grease and line a 23cm, round cake tin.

In a bowl, combine the cornflour, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk together until evenly distributed.

Add the eggs and butter and whisk until smooth, be careful not to overbeat the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool completely before placing it in the freezer or fridge for 30-60 minutes.

Using a small, serrated knife, make a cut in the cake about 1.5cm from the edge, all the way around. It helps to do this at a 45 degree angle as it makes it easier to pull the cake away. Make another cut around, straight down another 1.5cm in and pull the loosened cake out (it should be a triangular shape). Use the knife to cut away the remaining cake in the middle to create a lip around the edge with a base of cake underneath (like a traditional flan shape).

Spoon the jam into the centre of the cake and spread it out. Arrange your chosen fruit on top and serve!

 

Linds runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography