Tag Archives: home baking

Recipe: Really Simple Mocha Cake

When all the coffee shops are shut and you’re missing your favourite mocha, what’s a girl to do but bake a mocha cake? This week there were two birthdays in our family; for the first, I produced a rocky road and for the second I whipped up this delicious mocha cake.

I looked all over the Internet for a mocha cake recipe I liked, but I couldn’t find one. The ones I’d looked at seemed a bit faffy for what is essentially a coffee and chocolate sponge cake. I do make good sponge cake, so I made up my own mocha cake recipe and thankfully it turned out well, much to the delight of my family.

Recipe: Really Simple Mocha Cake

Simple Mocha Cake

Ingredients

225g soft butter or baking margarine like Stork
225g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 large eggs
4 level tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

For the coffee icing
150g soft butter
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
20g cocoa powder
4 level tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line the base of two deep 20cm sandwich cake tins.

Beat the butter (or margarine) and sugar together until pale and fluffy. I used an electric hand whisk, but you can use a wooden spoon if you prefer. Add the eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla and coffee mixture and mix together. Gently tip in the flour and baking powder and combine until it’s all smooth.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two greased and lined baking tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until cooked through. I tend to open the oven door and leave my cakes in for five minutes so the shock of coming out of the oven is less. Maybe I just bake sensitive cakes.

Turn your cakes out onto a wire rack and leave to cool fully. If you’re in a rush, you can pop them in the fridge for half an hour or so.

Recipe: Really Simple Mocha Cake

To make the buttercream icing, sift the icing sugar and mix with your softened butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Beat in the dissolved coffee and cocoa powder with the vanilla essence.

When they are cool, put a blob of the buttercream icing on your cake plate or stand; place the first layer of your sponge cake on top. The blob of buttercream will anchor the cake in place and stop it from sliding about. Smother the top of your first layer with about half of the buttercream, then sandwich the second layer on top of that. Swirl the rest of the buttercream on the top layer. I topped that with some grated chocolate, but you can leave it plain if you prefer.

I was very generous with the buttercream. If you think it’s far too much, then use what you want and put the rest in the fridge for topping cupcakes or whatever at a later date.

This mocha cake is really light, but rich. Full of lovely coffee chocolate flavour and a great family bake. To make mine even more family friendly, I made mine with decaf instant coffee, so there should be no sleepless nights in my house!

Recipe: Really Simple Mocha Cake

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Being in lockdown isn’t easy. Some days I find myself going a little stir crazy, some days I’m listless in bed, other days I’m bursting with energy. I’m trying, where I can to just go with my mood rather than force myself to do things. Over the weekend the sun shone a little and I managed to leave the house and take the dog for a short walk on the field by my house. Along one shady side of the field is a path which in the spring in fringed with wild garlic. I can never resist pulling a few leaves and taking them home to make wild garlic scones or something equally lovely with them. Whilst it was quiet, I grabbed a handful of wild garlic, then headed home to bake some wild garlic and Parmesan focaccia, because everyone else is baking bread during lockdown, so why shouldn’t I?

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Focaccia is a pretty simple bread to make, it just takes quite a lot of time. From picking my wild garlic, to pulling my bread out of the oven took the best part of five hours, but it was five hours very well spent. Before I began I checked in with my lovely Italian friend, Sherwin. He is a keen baker and gave me some top tips for tip top focaccia. His advice was as follows…

Focaccia is a high hydration dough so it is sticky and wet. Use oil instead of flour when hand kneading the dough on a work surface and preferably a slow first rise of 12 hours in the fridge, but an hour at room temperature will do. Use well oiled hands  when transferring and shaping the dough into a baking tray making sure not to knock out too much of the air. You can put rosemary, olives, cherry tomatoes, courgette or cheese. Enjoy!

I followed his excellent advice. I chose to prove my dough for an hour in the warmth of my bedroom and then topped it with wild garlic and Parmesan. The result was like the best garlic bread you’ve ever had.

Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Ingredients
500g strong white bread flour
1 and a half teaspoons of salt
2 sachets dried easy blend yeast
Olive oil, lots
400ml cold water
More olive oil for drizzling
20g wild garlic leaves, washed and finely chopped
30g finely grated Parmesan
A sprinkle of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Method
Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and the water into a large bowl. Gently mix together with your hand to form a dough, then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes.

Next you need to stretch and knead the dough by hand in the bowl for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto a very well oiled work surface and then knead some more for about five more minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size, this takes about an hour. I put mine on my bed as my bedroom is the warmest room in the house, but whatever works for you.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and flatten the dough onto the tray, push the dough into the corners, cover with a large plastic bag or cling film, making sure it does not touch the top of the dough, then leave to prove for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 220C or Gas mark 7.

Using the tips of your fingers, dimple the focaccia all over, so it is covered in little dents. Sprinkle over the wild garlic and Parmesan, adding a generous twist of freshly ground black pepper and some sea salt. Drizzle over some more olive oil and then put in your pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Once it’s baked and out of the oven; drizzle with a little more olive oil and it’s ready to eat, hot or cold.

It is the most delicious bread I’ve made and if you can get your hands on some wild garlic, it’s well worth making yourself.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Every year in March and April, the hedgerows and lanes hereabouts are abundant with wild garlic. When the wind blows in the right direction, we get a gentle whiff of garlic and off I go with a paper bag to collect a few leaves to cook with. One of my favourite ways to use it is in wild garlic and parmesan scones, which go really well with soup, or as a savoury snack with some good butter.

Of course when you’re foraging it pays to know a little of what you’re doing. Wild garlic can look pretty similar to other plants, some of which may be poisonous, but you can generally tell what is and isn’t wild garlic by the smell, which is, well, garlicky.

When you go foraging it’s important not to pick too much of anything. Take just what you need and save the rest for the wildlife or other foragers. If you’re foraging for wild garlic, you don’t need much anyway. It’s pretty pungent and a few leaves go quite a long way. I tend to try to pick the younger leaves in spots where I think (hope) dogs haven’t been. I always wash my wild garlic leaves before I use them anyway. You can find out more about wild garlic here.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

These wild garlic and parmesan scones are very delicious. They’re everything you want from a savory scone. I sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the top which makes them extra delicious. This recipe makes about 8 big scones, though you could cut them smaller if you prefer.

Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Ingredients:

125g butter
450g self-raising flour
50g finely grated parmesan cheese
5 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Big pinch of salt
Milk to mix, I used about 1/3 pint
Rock salt

How to make Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones:

Pre-heat your oven to 190° and put a sheet of baking parchment on a large baking tray.

In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the parmesan, wild garlic, bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt and toss together. Little by little add the milk, mixing with your hands until it makes a soft dough.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and pat or roll it until it’s 1.5-2cm thick. I usually shape the dough and pat it down with my hands because it gives a slightly more rustic finish which I like. Cut the dough into rounds, don’t twist the cutter because this can prevent the scone from rising.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Put the cut scones on the baking tray, brush them with milk and if you like sprinkle a pinch of rock salt on the top of each one. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they’re nice a brown and hollow when you tap them underneath.

Serve hot from the oven with lashings of butter, or with soup or a ploughman’s lunch.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these blueberry and buttermilk scones.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Recipe: Beautiful Blueberry and Buttermilk Scones

Over the weekend we experimented with making our own butter at home. One of the by-products of the butter making process is that you’re left with a jug of buttermilk. Buttermilk is supposed to be brilliant for making soda bread and scones with, though I’d not tried it in scones before. Waste not, want not, so I whipped up a batch of blueberry scones to use up the buttermilk. The result was the most incredible, light as air scones I’ve ever made – even my Nan would’ve been impressed with these blueberry and buttermilk scones!

blueberry and buttermilk scones

Blueberry and Buttermilk Scones

Ingredients
14 oz self raising flour
3 oz caster sugar
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz butter or margarine
8 fl oz buttermilk
100g of fresh blueberries
1 egg (for egg wash)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 220 degrees or Gas Mark 7.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add your softened butter or margarine and rub until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add your buttermilk and mix, the dough will be a bit wetter than a standard scone recipe – this is normal, don’t be tempted to add more flour. Once combined, add your blueberries and gently mix in until fairly evenly distributed.

Roll the mixture out so it’s approx 2cm thick, I did this on a piece of greaseproof paper because the texture of the dough was quite wet.. Cut into 12 rounds and put on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. I brushed the tops of my scones with a beaten egg before baking.

Notes
Serve plain, or with butter, or blueberry jam, or cream, or everything you can fit onto your scone. They’re delicious slightly warm with a little dollop of jam.

To date the picture I look of my luscious blueberry and buttermilk scones has been my most popular images on Instagram. I can’t look at it without feeling hungry and wanting to make a fresh batch.

These airy-fairly light blueberry and buttermilk scones were the best ones I’ve ever made, and I’ve made hundred of scones in my lifetime. They are delicious eaten plain, or lovely buttered or warmed and served with blueberry jam, cream and a pot of tea.

Once you’ve tried these delicious light as a feather buttermilk scones, you’ll never go back. I promise you’ve never had scones THIS good!

Recipe: Beautiful Blueberry and Buttermilk Scones