Category Archives: baking

guinness cake

My mum and dad have their birthdays this week, so in honour of them both getting a little older, I made a birthday cake.

One of my colleagues in my previous job once brought a chocolate Guinness cake into work, and it was delicious, so I thought I’d give it a go. The recipe I found online is (I think) a Hummingbird Bakery recipe, but I’m not 100% sure.

True to form, not everything went according to plan whilst I was baking. Firstly I texted my dad while I was at the gym to ask whether we had certain ingredients, as I had to go to the shops to pick up what we didn’t already have in the house. Unfortunately he wasn’t very thorough. I had already melted a packet of butter in a saucepan of Guinness (yeah…healthy it ain’t!) when I opened the egg box and saw just one egg sitting there, staring beadily at me. So I made my dad go out to get some more eggs, but by this time it was about 10pm and the local shops were all closed, so he ended up having to do a grand tour of the town’s petrol stations until he eventually found somewhere open which was selling eggs. Still…his fault for not checking properly!

The result of this was that the cake didn’t go in the oven until about 11pm, and the recipe said it would take 45 minutes to bake.

While it was in the oven, I got started on the cream cheese frosting. The recipe said to cream the butter and icing sugar (powdered sugar to you Americans) in a freestanding mixer or a large bowl with a handheld electric whisk…

Well… This recipe was obviously written by some smug person with £400 to spend on a shiny red KitchenAid, who clearly has never tried to mix butter and icing sugar using a handheld electric whisk.

DO NOT do this. Not unless you want icing sugar on every available surface, in your hair and coating the inside of your lungs. I had to clean up a scene of total devastation, whilst coughing and spluttering and trying not to breathe it in. I also looked like I’d gone prematurely grey… Hot!

After guesstimating how much sugar to add to the bowl to replace what had flown out, I went back to the good old fashioned wooden spoon method, and only picked up the electric whisk again once I’d added the cream cheese.

By this point my cake was rising nicely, although bubbling quite alarmingly in the middle like some kind of hot lava pool. I decided to ignore it and hope it would even out on its own, which it eventually did.

However, after 45 minutes it was not remotely cooked, which was frustrating given that it was a work night and I wanted to go to bed. Eventually, after at least an hour, the toothpick came out clean, so I took it out and let it cool.

I was in a bit of a hurry getting it out of the tin and it did collapse a bit, but it’s a pretty dense cake, so luckily it didn’t sink too much. As soon as it was cool enough, I added the frosting.

This was the result:

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The verdict?

We loved it. It’s pretty dense and rich, but the flavour of the Guinness offsets the richness of the chocolate, and the tangy cream cheese frosting complements the cake perfectly. And I love how the colours of the cake and frosting look just like a pint of Guinness! I think this might be a new favourite of mine.

This doesn’t mean I’ve failed Dry January though, right? Eating Guinness cake is not the same thing as drinking a pint of Guinness.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

christmas cake

I was supposed to be at work today, but due to what we in the legal profession would call a “force majeure event”, (i.e. circumstances beyond my control) I wasn’t able to get there. I arrived in London yesterday morning amid gale force winds and dire warnings not to attempt to travel in the afternoon unless it was absolutely necessary. So I went into the office, picked up a couple of files and came home again. Today there are no trains at all between here and London, so I have an unexpected day off.

So, I thought it might be a good opportunity to finish off the Christmas cake I’ve been making.

I made the fruit cake a couple of months ago, using this Jamie Oliver recipe I found online.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/magazine/recipes-view.php?title=traditional-christmas-cake

Since then I have been gradually “feeding” it with brandy every few days, until the bottle was empty. (Yes, it smells extremely alcoholic!)

Then a few days ago I covered it with rolled-out marzipan, using apricot baking glaze to stick the marzipan to the cake. After leaving it for a couple of days to dry, I added ready-to-roll white icing on top.

Today was the fun bit… decorating!

The trees and snowman are made out of icing coloured with different colours of food dye, and I sprinkled some edible white glitter on top.

What do you think?

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jake and the cronut

My friend Jake is awesome. He had the day off work today so he came to meet me for lunch. This isn’t something we can normally do, as he works on the other side of the city. So we sat in the park with our lunch and had a nice catch up, and I mentioned in passing that I really wanted to try a cronut, and that I’d seen them in Fortnum & Mason when I was Christmas shopping, but hadn’t had time to queue up for one.

So later this afternoon, he bought me a cronut and delivered it to my office.

See? Jake really is awesome.

And the cronut was bloody lovely.

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