Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Rumbly Tumbly

Disney Classic # 22 - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Well, it really didn't take me too long to come up with a cake for Winnie the Pooh - there was no way I could get away with NOT using honey as the main ingredient, so it was decided fairly early on that I'd be making a honey cake. And since we watched this movie on a cold November evening, I decided to make it a warm honey cake.
Pooh Bear approves of warm honey cake.

I used a recipe from my trusted BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes recipe book, (Devonshire Honey Cake, pg 12). I use this recipe book quite a lot, quite simply because I love it! I've not (yet) tried every recipe in the book, but I've never been disappointed with the recipes I have tried, and more often then not am surprised at how well the recipes turn out. Sure, I expect them to be tasty, but mostly they exceed expectations!

Anyways, I decided to serve the cake warm from the oven, as it was a rather chilly evening, and I also decided to use a honey syrup to top the cake, rather than just to glaze it with honey as the recipe suggests.

Prep time: 30 mins        Cook time: 1 hour      Serves: 8-10

275g clear honey
250g butter (slightly salted)
110g dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
300g self-raising flour

  1. Cut the butter into pieces and place in a non-stick pan with the honey and the sugar. Melt slowly over a very low heat, stirring occasionally. Once liquid, increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil for one minute. Remove from heat, and set 3tbsps of the mixture to one side to top the cake. Set the rest of the mixture to one side to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, and grease and line a deep baking tin (I used a 7.5 inch tin and this was the perfect amount of cake mixture.)
  3. Beat the eggs, and then add these in to the cooled honey mixture using a wooden spoon.
  4. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, and then pour in the honey mixture. Beat this mixture until all of the flour is incorporated and you have a smooth creamy mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when pressed. If you are unsure, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and pull this out, if the skewer comes out clean the cake is done, if there is residue the cake needs a little longer!
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool slightly in to pan. Reheat the honey syrup that was set aside for topping the cake slowly over a low heat. Remove the cake from the pan (careful not to burn yourself!) and place on a serving dish. Pour the warm honey syrup over the centre of the cake and allow it to run down the sides.
  7. Cut into generous slices and serve nice and warm! (The cake also tastes pretty good when cooled, but it is outstanding when warm!)

Next time we're watching The Rescuers, and I'll be making a cake based on one half of the heroic duo, Bernard!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Disney Classic # 21 - Robin Hood

Robin Hood was another of the films that I struggled to come up with a dessert idea for. Quite often when I'm struggling for ideas I fall back on the location that the film is set - it's often a fail safe method!

I wasn't able to find any Sherwood Forest cake, but I did come across the next best thing - Nottingham Pudding. I'd never heard of Nottingham Pudding, but on doing some research I found out that the pudding dates back to medieval times, when it was originally served as a side dish to savory main courses. Since then the dish has evolved and became more commonly served as a dessert.

I had toyed with the idea of making some target practice cupcakes, with little cocktail-stick arrows pointing out of them, however, the Nottingham Pudding had started to grow on me, and made the cupcakes seem a bit of a boring option in comparison!

I experimented and played around with the recipes I found. Most of the recipes I found suggested using one apple per person, stuffing the apple with the spiced butter, and covering with the batter before baking. However, I decided against using whole apples and opted to slice mine instead. There were a few reasons for this - first of all that I didn't know how many people would be coming so I wasn't sure how many apples I'd need; secondly because I thought a whole bramley apple (which are rather on the large side) might be a bit much for one person; thirdly because there are normally between 5-8 of us, and I don't have a baking dish big enough to fit that many apples; and finally because I was dubious about whether the 30 minutes needed to cook the batter would be enough to bake the apples thoroughly and make them soft.

So instead I decided to slice the apples and soften them in the spiced butter before adding the batter and baking. I think it worked out fairly well, we ended up with a pudding that was soft apple and caramel on the bottom, and crispy pudding on top, and everyone seemed to enjoy it - especially with lashings of custard!

However... on the day of baking I had a horrible feeling that this would all go very wrong - a medieval recipe that I've never tried before but am adapting anyway... and I was worried we'd end up dessert-less. Well, when I was sick my Mum came to visit and we watched Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals. Jamie made some jam tarts which reminded us of my Mum's favourite cakes that we always used to bake together when I was little, a kind of jam and sponge tart that my mum called Maids of Honour. Anyways, feeling a little nostalgic, and uncertain about the Nottingham Pudding, I decided to honour Maid Marian by making some delectable Maids of Honour tarts as a back up plan. (Plus I don't like apple... so this way I get to share some of the baked treats!)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm... cake!

Below are the recipes for my version of a Nottingham Pudding, based on recipes found here, here and here. For the Maids of Honour I used my mum's old recipe, but decided to try it with Jamie Oliver's idea of layering the jam and sponge, as described here.

Nottingham Pudding

Prep time: 45 mins          Cook time: 45 mins         Serves: 8-10


75g plain flour
1 medium egg
85ml milk
40ml water
pinch salt
3 large bramley/cooking apples (mine came to 838g)
75g butter (plus a pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter)
50g dark brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7, and grease and line a baking tin
  2. Prepare the batter mixture. Sift the flour into a bowl and create a well in the centre. Add the egg, milk water and salt to the flour and beat until smooth (this takes about 2 minutes with an electric beater, or about 5-7 minutes by hand.) Put the batter in the fridge to rest whilst you prepare the apples.
  3. Peel, core and slice the apples and place these into a bowl. Pour the lemon juice over the apples.
  4. In a large pan over a low heat, gently melt the butter. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon and spices and stir until syrupy. Add the sliced apples and lemon juice to the pan and stir well, ensuring all of the apples are coated in the syrup. Cover the pan and leave to cook over a low heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the apples start to soften.
  5. Take the batter from the fridge and beat quickly with a fork until smooth again (it may have separated slightly in the fridge, this is normal)
  6. Place the softened apples and the syrup into the baking tin, and cover evenly with the batter. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins, until golden brown and crispy around the edges.
  7. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Maids of Honour

Prep time: 20 mins       Cook time: 20 mins      Makes 12 tarts


125g plain flour
55g butter
pinch of salt
2-3tbsp water
100g margarine
100g caster sugar
1 medium egg
100g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
100g mixed-fruit jam (raspberry also tastes great!)
  1. Cut the butter into cubes and place in a large bowl with the plain flour and the pinch of salt. Rub the flour, butter and salt together between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Using a cutlery knife, stir in the water a little at a time, using just enough to make the mixture form a dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 10 minutes, whilst you prepare the fillings.
  3. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 and grease a bun tray. (Make sure to grease the tray really well so you can remove the tarts easily!)
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the margarine and caster sugar until smooth and creamy, then beat in the egg. Add the almond to the mixture and sift in the flour. beat well until all of the ingredients have combine to a thick, stiff batter.
  5. Place the jam into a small bowl and beat for about a minute to soften it. put the jam and sponge mixture to one side.
  6. Take the pastry dough from the fridge and generously dust your work surface with flour. Roll out the pastry and cut 12 circles from the dough. Gently place these circles into the bun tray, pressing them lightly into shape.
  7. Spoon 1/2 tsp of jam into each pastry case, followed by 1/2 tsp of sponge mixture, and another 1/2 tsp jam. Finish by topping the last layer of jam with another 1tsp of sponge mixture on each tart. (tip - try not to let the jam or sponge mixture flow over the sides of the pastry case!)
  8. Bake the tarts in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Leave to cool in the tray for 5 minutes, and then carefully remove each tart using a tablespoon. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
  9. The tarts taste great warm or cold - which means you should eat one straight from the oven and save one for later!! ^_^ (Tip - if you're going to eat the tarts warm, give the jam around 5-10 minutes to cool first, or you may burn your mouth!)

Next week we'll be watching The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and filling our rumbly tumblies with a delicious honey cake.

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Ev'rybody Wants to be a Cat

Disney Classic # 20 - The Aristocats

The Aristocats was one of the first films I came up with an idea for. As soon as I thought of the movie I thought of millionaire's shortbread - there seemed to be a really obvious link between the movie and this tasty tasty biscuit-y treat. (I simply love millionaire's shortbread!) Just as eccentric cat-lover Madame Bonfamille enjoys sharing her millions with her beloved kittens and ally-cats, I love sharing my millionaire's shortbread with my own pets. (by pets I mean friends/loved-ones. Somehow I don't think my goldfish would enjoy *that* much caramel!)

Although I vaguely knew how to make the shortbread (or at least I knew what went into it...) I followed a recipe I found here for the measurements.

Prep time: 1 hour       Makes 16 slices


225g plain flour
80g caster sugar
340g unsalted butter
pinch of salt
150g dark brown sugar
397g can of condensed milk
300g milk chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a square baking tin
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, caster sugar and pinch of salt. Add 170g of the butter to this mixture and rub in until it forms a crumb-like texture. Press this mixture evenly into the baking tin and bake for 15-20 minutes - until golden brown.
  3. Set the shortbread to one side to cool whilst you prepare the caramel. Place 150g butter and the dark brown sugar in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. (Tip - if you are using unsalted butter then add a pinch of salt to the butter/sugar, otherwise you may find that the butter does not mix in!) Stir continuously until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Add the condensed milk to the pan and continue to stir until bubbles start to appear on the surface. Remove the caramel from heat as soon as it starts to boil.
  4. Spread the caramel evenly over the shortbread base and leave to cool slightly before refrigerating for at least 30 mins.
  5. Once the caramel has set, melt the chocolate and the remaining 20g butter in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the caramel and return to the refrigerator to set.
  6. Once completely set, cut into squares or bars and serve! (Tip: dip the knife you are using to slice the millionaire's shortbread into boiling water before cutting into the shortbread, as this will make it easier to slice through the solid chocolate.)

Next week it's Robin Hood, and we'll be paying cakey homage to the hero with a traditional Nottingham Pudding ^_^

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Don't Pick the Prickly Pear by the Paw

Disney Classic # 19 - The Jungle Book

I got my inspiration for this cake when flicking through a recipe book. I came across the recipe for a mango, banana and coconut cake, and immediately I thought "JUNGLE FRUITS = Jungle Book!" It's amazing actually, I think I'm constantly subconsciously looking for cake ideas, just any old thing can trigger it and make me think of a Disney movie.

I have to admit I was a bit dubious about this weeks cake - somehow the thought of mixing mango, banana and coconut just didn't seem to sit right in my mind. My Mr. agreed, he thought that instead I should make a chocolate cake, as chocolate is brown it could represent the bark of the trees in the jungle. *rolls eyes* If the Mr had a say in it, we'd have chocolate cake every week. However, the purpose of this challenge was to experiment, so experiment I did.

Unfortunately my local grocers was fresh out of paw-paws and prickly pears...

I found the recipe in the old trusty BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes. (Page 54 - Mango, Banana and Coconut Cake). I've never baked a cake with fresh fruit before, but I know that adding fresh fruit to cake mixture can do strange things so I decided to follow the recipe to the letter.

I'd like to make a note here that at various stages this cake mixture looks all kinds of wrong and nasty. Do not despair! Once you've added the flour it will return to something resembling a normal cake mixture, and once baked it tastes delicious and is really very moist!

Prep time: 20 mins     Cook time: 30-35mins      Serves: 10


1 medium sized ripe mango
2 medium sized ripe bananas
1tsp vanilla extract
225g margarine
140g light brown sugar
2 eggs
50g desiccated coconut
225g self raising flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp mixed spice

For the filling:
200g packet soft cheese
2tsp lemon juice
50g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3 and grease and line two 8 inch baking tins
  2. Peel, stone and chop the mango, and then puree the flesh. Put the mango to one side for now. Peel the bananas and break these up into a small bowl. Mash the bananas to a pulp using a fork, ensuring that there are no large lumps remaining. Mix half of the mango puree into the mashed banana, and put the other half of the mango puree in the fridge for later. Add the vanilla extract to the banana and mango mixture and mix well. Put this fruit mixture to one side.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs, and then add these to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time. (Note: this is when the cake mixture starts to resemble something not very nice - do not worry, just keep at it and it will taste delicious!)
  4. Stir in the banana and mango mixture, and then add the desiccated coconut.
  5. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice, and fold into the mixture until thoroughly combined. (Note: by now the cake mixture should look fairly normal, if a bit stiff!)
  6. Divide the mixture between the two baking tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 30-35 minutes until firm to touch, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Once the cakes have baked, leave to cool in the tins for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  7. Once the cakes have cooled, prepare the filling. Beat together the soft cheese, lemon juice,and icing sugar until smooth and glossy. Stir in the reserved mango puree. Spread the filling evenly onto one of the cakes, and then place the other cake on top of that. Dust the cake with icing sugar to decorate, and serve!

Next time round it's the Aristocats, and I'll be making some very yummy millionaire's shortbread.

Happy Thoughts