Best-Ever Chocolate Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache — Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking

Everyone needs a go-to favorite cake recipe that never fails to blow away friends and family. That doesn’t mean you need to spend hours and hours perfecting some five-tiered art piece that would be on a baking competition show. For me, it means my master recipes: Best-Ever Vanilla Cake, Best-Ever Carrot Cake, and the Best-Ever […]

Best-Ever Chocolate Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache — Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking

VINTAGE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING BOOKS…

Before 1800, housekeeping books tended to be handwritten collections of recipes and instructions tried and tested by the household cook. By the 1850’s they were developed into books for ‘adult women’, in particular for your brides who were setting up home.

They were intended as work manuals, they were without lavish photography or even set in fine bindings but if you can get hold of one from a book shop they will amaze you. They tell us about the lives of the women in the past from where you can see social change and the disappearance of domestic servants.

Mrs. Breton’s Book of Household Management, which was published in 1861 was a huge success and sold 60,000 copies in its first year and two million by 1868. Of course with no television at that time these books were inspirational.

By the time Helen Simpson wrote ‘The Happy Housewife’ in 1934 modern appliances were starting to pop up everywhere, not only helping with the housework but also removing the servants of that time.

In ‘Keeping House’ with Elizabeth Craig (Collins 1936) she said ‘ I have no use for elaborately decorated or furnished homes or for elaborate meals. The simpler the home, the simpler the housekeeping.

Some of these vintage home books can now fetch a lot of money at auction. A book published in 1687 ‘The Accomplished Ladies Rich Closit of Rarities’, by John Shirley sold at Sotheby’s for £1,625. So, if your great aunt or grandma is still alive and has some old cookery books make sure they don’t end up at the tip.

Even the National Trust ‘Manual of Housekeeping of 2006’ sold 10,000 copies in 2006 !!!!!!!

TURMERIC & ORANGE FRUIT LOAF CAKE RECIPE…

2 x Turmeric, with Orange & Star Anise teabags (Twinings, or one of your choice)
225g dried Fruit ( like raisins, sultanas etc)
225g self-raising flour
1 orange (grated)
2 large eggs (beaten)
150g light brown sugar (reserve 50g for sprinkling on top of cake)

Put two teabags in a cup or mug and fill with boiling water ( ¾ full if in a mug)
Put dried fruit into a large bowl, add the grated orange then pour over the tea and leave to soak overnight or for 2-3 hours
Preheat oven to 180°C/160°fan/gas 4
Grease or line a 2lb loaf tin
Add the brown sugar to the beaten eggs and whisk lightly
Add the eggs and flour to the bowl of fruit and fold in completely until it represents a dough-like consistency
Spoon mixture into the lined tin and sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on the top
Bake for 40-50 mins in the middle of the oven
Test by poking a skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean it’s cooked, if not give it a few more minutes
Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 mins
Remove from loaf tin and leave to cool on a wire rack

11 TIPS ON USING EGGS IN YOUR BAKING…

1. If you add a beaten egg slowly to your batter mix it prevents the batter from becoming too stiff.

2. Always use eggs at room temperature when baking with them.

3. Eggs will whip more easily if left for 10 minutes in cold water before breaking.

4. Place the egg in a bowl of water, if it sinks and lies on its side, it’s fresh. If it sinks and stands large-end up, it’s on the turn so use within a couple of days. If it floats, bin it, as it’s gone off.

5. If you weigh four whole eggs in their shells, then whatever the weight is, that’s how much each of flour, sugar and butter you should add. This will ensure an delicious cake every time.

6. If you’re making soft meringue for a pie topping, say, for our Classic Lemon Meringue Pie, add a teaspoon of cornflour to your sugar. It’ll aid in absorbing any extra water the sugar will attract.

7. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.

8. Eggs will stay fresher longer if you store them pointed end down.

9. If you forgot to get your eggs out for baking then just pop them into a bowl and cover with hot water. Take them out after a couple of minutes and use for baking as normal.

10. To separate eggs for baking, tap the shell against the side of a mixing bowl to crack, then break open, letting the white run out into the bowl and holding the yolk in one half of shell. Tip the yolk backwards and forwards from shell to shell to let all the white run into the bowl.

11. When you’re making sponge cakes, beat the eggs together in a jug and add to the butter and sugar mixture gradually, whisking well between additions. If the mixture looks like it’s going to curdle, add a spoonful of the weighed flour and beat again until smooth.

TEN HEALTHY BAKING TIPS…

Simple changes to make your baking a little bit more healthy.

1.Avocado – Use this healthy fat to make a frosting, pudding, or replace butter in recipes for cakes, brownies, bread, and other baked goods.

2. Apple Sauce – Use this instead of oil adding unsweetened applesauce into those moist baked treats.

3. Fitness Magazine suggest paying a little extra for high-quality products, like premium chocolate and pure vanilla extract, can pay off. “More-flavorful ingredients make you less likely to miss any calories you’ve cut,” says Kim Macy, the pastry chef at Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona

4. Beets add sweetness and moisture without taking away from the flavor,” says pastry chef Marisa Churchill, the author of Sweet & Skinny. Add two-thirds of a cup of finely grated raw beets to brownie batter and you can reduce the sugar by a quarter cup.

5. Another one from Fitness Magazine is for a lighter spin on cream cheese frosting, which is typically made with full-fat cream cheese and butter, beat together with an eight-ounce block of reduced-fat cream cheese, one cup of powdered sugar, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. The fluffy icing contains a mere 59 calories and three grams of fat per tablespoon.

6. Eat This also says when you’re baking try substituting the recommended oil or fat in the recipe with Greek yogurt. You won’t lose any flavor and still have plenty of moisture in the consistency.

7. The British Heart Foundation says using an unsaturated spread instead of butter has more benefits than simply reducing the amount of saturated fat: it actually gives a lighter texture, especially if you’re making an all-in-one sponge cake.

8. They also point out that try using a drizzle of glacé (water) icing rather than butter icing for cake toppings. Or, a light sprinkle of icing sugar may be all you need to give your bake the final touch.

9. Eat Right suggest you try a Whole-Grain Flour. White whole-wheat flour can be substituted one-for-one for all-purpose flour in most recipes. You also can replace up to half the all-purpose flour in a recipe with a whole-grain flour without making any major adjustments to the recipe.

10.  Sainsbury’s tip is if you significantly reduce the sugar in a cake, try adding naturally sweet spices such as cinnamon, mixed spice, and vanilla, says Inman, or drizzle a small amount of honey or maple syrup over the top when serving. ‘It fools you into believing it is sweeter than it is,’ explains Bourke.

7 HANDY BAKING TIPS FROM AFTERNOON TEA4TWO…

1.When baking shortbread cookies, substitute half of your plain flour with cornflour. It gives them a really nice taste.

2. Before icing a cake, sprinkle the top with some flour, this will stop the icing from running down over the edges of the cake.

3. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.

4. Don’t crowd the oven with Baking tins. The pans should never touch each other or the sides of the oven or be placed over or under each other on the racks.

5. Grease pans using a piece of paper towel, rub a small amount of shortening, butter or margarine evenly over the bottom and on sides of pans, if directed. A small amount of pan spray may be used and spread over the pan, also using the paper towel technique.

6. Prevent sharp edges on muffins, bar cookies or quick breads by greasing the muffin cups or pans only on the bottom and halfway up the sides so the batter is higher than the grease line. This is one time you might not want to use a pan spray.

7. To test for doneness in cakes, quick breads and bar cookies, use a toothpick inserted in the centre. The toothpick should come out clean and dry or have only a few crumbs clinging.

A TOUCH OF CINNAMON FOR TASTE AND TO HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS…

Cinnamon is a great addition to your diet as it lowers blood sugar levels. They suggest you only have one teaspoon to help lower your blood sugar level.

Cinnamon is a popular spice, especially for baked goods and desserts. Aside from its distinctive aroma, cinnamon is believed to help lower the blood sugar level, making it suitable for obese patients who are at higher risk of diabetes. However, consumption should be limited to one teaspoon per day, as excessive amounts can result in liver problems.

Very Well Fit says that Cinnamon has been used in the medical arena for thousands of years. Europeans in the Middle Ages mixed cinnamon with meat as a preservative and sixth-century Greeks prescribed cinnamon to help with indigestion and other ailments. But today we’re talking about the popular claims regarding cinnamon as a weight-loss aid. A little cinnamon adds a lot of flavour to food for minimal calories, and that’s always a good thing when it comes to your diet. An entire teaspoon has just six calories and about 2g carbs, plus a little more than a gram of fiber.3 Cinnamon can also enhance the sweetness in your food, which means less need for sugar or other sweeteners.

So, why not add a sprinkle to your oatmeal or over fruit especially for crumbles as it goes with any fruit. You could try adding some to low far greek yoghurt or when making a chilly.

7 QUICK TIPS ON BAKING CAKES…

  1. When baking shortbread cookies, substitute half of your plain flour with cornflour. It gives them a really nice taste.
  2. Before icing a cake, sprinkle the top with some flour, this will stop the icing from running down over the edges of the cake.
  3. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.
  4. Don’t crowd the oven with Baking tins. The pans should never touch each other or the sides of the oven or be placed over or under each other on the racks.
  5. Grease pans using a piece of paper towel, rub a small amount of shortening, butter or margarine evenly over the bottom and on sides of pans if directed. A small amount of pan spray may be used and spread over the pan, also using the paper towel technique.
  6. Prevent sharp edges on muffins, bar cookies by greasing the muffin cups or pans only on the bottom and halfway up the sides so the batter is higher than the grease line. This is one time you might not want to use a pan spray.
  7. To test for doneness in cakes, quick breads and bar cookies, use a toothpick inserted in the center. The toothpick should come out clean and dry or have only a few crumbs clinging to it.

For more great tips on baking check out my book on Amazon.

A Little Book On Tea, Cake and Chocolate: TEA pairings, TEA and chocolate, TEA and its health benefits plus over 100 tips on BAKING cakes.

A GREAT GIFT FOR ANY TEA, CAKE AND CHOCOLATE DEVOTEE…

I have just published my book ‘A Little Book on Tea Cake & Chocolatewhich would make a great gift for anyone who loves tea, cake and chocolate. 

This little book on tea and cake is a guide about one of our favourite beverages. It explains tea pairings, tea and chocolate, tea and health, tea and sandwiches, fascinating tea facts, buying the right tea, tea to help you sleep and tea cozies and teapots. It also features over one hundred tips on baking cakes and has some recipes for delicious loaf cakes. It finishes with several lovely tea quotes.

A great book for any tea devotee. It’s available on Amazon for £2.99

Over the last three months of spending hours after hours and days after days at the hospital, where my Dad was,  I started making notes of some of my posts on tea, cake and chocolate as I felt sure I could use it in a book.

There are nineteen chapters which cover all the tea topics I have mentioned above plus tips on how to make the best cake, pastry, and more. I also cover baking apps and recipe books old and new.

I finally finished it at the weekend and it is now available to buy as a paperback and hopefully as a kindle read soon. I would love some feedback if any readers bought the book.