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THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE

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It's a bold statement to make, but I'm confident that you'll agree - this really is the best chocolate cake recipe around. And to make it even better, it's so easy to make. Infact, it's a complete doddle.
(I've yet to convert the cups to grams/ounces but will do asap!) 

Tin/cases:
Cupcake or muffin tin and muffin cases, or 2 x 9inch sandwich tins, or brownie tin, all lined 
Oven at: 180C/350F (preheat)
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Makes: 1 layer cake or 1 tray bake 
Recipe to make 12 cupcakes in brackets (most ingredients just halved)  

Ingredients
For the cakes (cupcakes):
2 cups plain flour (1 cup)
2 cups sugar (granulated or caster sugar) (1 cup)
¾ cup cocoa powder (½ cup) 
2 tspns baking powder (1 tspn)
1½ bicarbonate of soda (¾ tspn) 
1 tspn salt (½ tspn) 
½ - 1 tspn espresso powder (optional but I think worth it) (¼-½ tspn)
1 cup milk (½ cup) 
½ cup vegetable oil (¼ cup)
2 eggs (1 egg)
2 tspns vanilla extract (1 tspn)
1 cup boiling water (½ cup) 

Vanilla buttercream
4.5 oz/125g softened butter
9 oz/255g icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk (full fat)
drop of vanilla extract

Chocolate buttercream
150g softened butter
450g icing sugar, sifted
50g cocoa
60ml milk (full fat)
drop of vanilla extract

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180/350/ (fan oven) 
2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using you stand mixer's paddle attachment, stir through the flour mixture until well combined. I recommend you sieve these ingredients first, but not essential. 
3. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined (or do this by hand). Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake mix. Beat on high for about 1 minute (or vigorously by hand) to add air to the batter. 
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins (if cupcakes till about 2/3 full). 
5. Bake in the preheated oven for ~30 minutes (if a fan oven) if making a layer cake. If making cupcakes, check after 15 minutes. Either way, cook long enough so that when you stab a cupcake with a sharp knife or skewer it comes out clean).  
6. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before placing on to a wire cooling rack to cool. 
7. Ice! 

Icing 
Mix and whiz - the longer you mix for the softer it becomes! 

Eat Joyobily x

YUMMY PUMPKIN CAKE




It's pumpkin season, hurrah! 
This cake has to be up there in my top 5 and this recipe, passed on to my by old family friends, is a family favourite and a real keeper. That's all there is to say really, and so without further ado... 

(Actually there is something else to say - the original recipe doesn't include icing...it doesn't necessarily need it, but I love the extra sweetness it brings)
(Also, this recipe is in 'cups' - next time I make it (which will be soon) I will put the proper weights in) 

Tin/Cases:
Either 2 x 20cm/8inch round tins (lined) 
OR 1lb loaf tine 
OR 12-16 muffins 

Oven at: 180 degrees (fan oven) (preheat)
Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cooking time: 50-60 mins

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin (I cut the pumpkin in to chunks and roasted at 200 degrees for an hour and then scraped off the pumpkin flesh and mashed with a fork - this works much better than boiling and mashing, and is much less of a faff) 
2 cups brown sugar (I used a mixture of demerara sugar and light soft brown because that's what I had but I'd suggest just a light muscavado) 
1 cup sunflower oil
2 tspn vanilla extract
2 eggs 
2 cups plain flour
1 tspn salt
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
½ tspn baking powder
2 tspn cinnamon 
(optional - ½ cup pecan nuts)  

For the icing:
(This makes more than enough. Left overs can be frozen ready for next time)
70g unsalted butter (softened)
250g icing sugar
1 tub of philadelphia (or regular cream cheese, full fat)
1-2 tspn vanilla (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven onto 180 degrees and line tin/s. 
2. Mix together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.
3. Add the pumpkin
4. Add dry ingredients (flour, spice, salt and BP) (no need to sift) to the wet mix and beat everything together until really well combined
5. Dollop the mixture into the cake tin and cook for about 50-60 minutes until a scewer or knife comes out clean (can take a while!) If making cupcakes, check them after 40 minutes. 
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. 
7. Ice when cool

Icing method: 
1. Cream butter and icing sugar
2. Add optional vanilla
3. Stir in the cream cheese (don't beat too much as this will make it really runny)
4. Either spread on cake or place in container and pop in fridge or freezer - this also keeps

Eat joyobily
x

No knead (& super easy) bread



A few years ago I went on a bread making course, and in the months that followed I churned out loaf after loaf after loaf, using my very own bread making hands. Not only did I find the whole process incredibly therapeutic but I also became more than slightly addicted to the freshly baked bread smell that filled would fill the entire house. I got pretty good and quick at it but when I found out I was intolerant to gluten (*yawn*) I stopped making it so often; I got out of practice and then ended up stopping making it all together. Sad face. 

Two years on, and one weaning 6-month old later, I want to go back to the basics and bake my bread from scratch. I'm not so strict anymore with the no gluten thing, as I'm fortunate enough not to have a serious allergy, and so I have been very up for getting back into the whole bread making thing again. But now I don't really have the luxury of being able to stand and lovingly knead dough. So when a friend let me in on the recipe of a homemade loaf that didn't require the kneading, I knew I had to give it a go. Today I did, and boy oh boy. It was so surprisingly easy and quick, and the results were pretty groovy....

I'm keeping the method simple on this blog, but if you want it in more detail go here

The original recipe calls for a dutch pot but this isn't necessary - I just used my large Le Crueset cast iron pot. It comes out as a pretty big loaf but it's possible to half the recipe, use a smaller cast iron pot reduce the cooking time to ~30 mins and - it also works (apparently) just as well in a pyrex, ceramic or enamal pot...basically something that can go into a 450F/230C oven. 

Ingredients
For a simple white loaf: 
6 cups/900g white bread flour 
2.5 teaspoon instant yeast 
0.5 teaspoon salt 
2 3/4 cups/640ml warm water 

For a wholemeal loaf 
3 cups/450g strong white bread flour 
3 cups/450g strong wholemeal bread flour
2.5 teaspoon instant yeast 
0.5 teaspoon salt 
2 3/4 cups/640ml warm water 

Method 
1. The night before you'd like the loaf, combine all the ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon or spatula until the dough just comes together. It will be a doughy mess! Cover with cling film  and let it sit for 12-16 hours on the countertop. 

2. The following morning, the dough should be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula, dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape. I end up using my hands dusted with flour. 
Place a floured tea towel on the surface and plop the dough onto it. Fold tea towel over the loaf and leave for another 2 hours. 

3. When you have 30 mins left of the 2 hours, preheat the oven to 450F/230C with your chosen baking pot in it. 

4. Remove the pot from the oven. Grab the ends of the tea towel and flip the entire dough blob into the pot. It doesn't matter which way it lands - just shake to even the dough out. 
Cover with the lip and place in the oven for 40 mins. After 40 mins simply remove the lid and keep in the bread in the oven for another 10 mins or until the crust is golden. 
Remove and let cool on a wired rack. 

Tip: 
If not eating the bread right away you can re-crisp the crust in the oven for 10 mins at 180C. 

Voila!

NIFTY TRICKS TO SOFTEN BUTTER (SANS A MICROWAVE)



With the weather getting colder I'm finding that butter isn't really ever getting as soft as I'd like to to pre bake, despite leaving it out overnight.  Of course, if you have a microwave you can just pop it in there but you're like me and don't, then you may find these 2 little tricks helpful: 

1. Fill a small bowl (one sufficiently large to cover the butter) with boiling water; let it stand a minute or two or until thoroughly heated, then empty the water and immediately turn the hot bowl upside down over the butter. In a few minutes, the butter will be softened so it is just right.  

2. If you need the butter for creaming with sugar but it's rock solid, warm the sugar slightly first and that should do the trick!

BAKING TIP OF THE WEEK - HOW TO GET A LEVEL CAKE


The Great British Bake Off kicks off again tonight and in honour of episode 1, I'm introducing a new weekly feature to the blog - baking tip of the week. Check in every Tuesday and I will be sure to have posted an absolute gem....

First up, your cakes are all about to get level - hurrah, no more wonky cakes! I can vouch for this tip as I've put it into practice a lot since I first stumbled across it, and it has worked every time.

In a nutshell, you wrap a wet cloth around the tin.
In a more detailed nutshell, here is what you do:

1. Get an old tea towel
2. Cut a strip/strips long enough to go around the edge of your cake tin
3. Wet the strips in cold water
4. Wrap around your tin
5. Secure using a safety pin or tie a knot

I'm afraid I don't have any pretty pictures of how to do this, but you can click through to this site, where I originally got the tip, and she's got a step by step guide of how to wrap a wet cloth around a cake tin.

Until next week, happy baking!

AND I'M BACK!

Panna's baking blog is back and oh is it so lovely to be here again! I've been away for a while baking and starting to raise my own little bun, Ben, and haven't made the time to keep up with trying out new recipes. I've still been baking, but just the old classics, so not really much to write about. 

What has also kept me busy is launching my little home baking business 'Panna's Brownies' - it's something i have talked about doing for years and figured now is as good a time as any! The idea is pretty simple, but I think PB has the edge over other similar businesses because -

1.  They taste amazing.
2.  They are sent through the post in a box that fits through the letter box - you will never get a card from the post office saying 'too large - come get it from us' (should put a disclaimer here - that is unless it's a really small letter box)
3. You don't need to sign for them which means you will never get a card from the post office saying 'you weren't in and we need your little squiggle - come get it from us'
4. 100% deliveries sent out so far, including the ones i sent to myself in tester days (!) have arrived the next day.

You can check it out at www.pannasbrownies.co.uk

I'll be back on here more often now, so keep an eye out. 
In the meantime, happy baking!


CHOCOLATE MACARONS

'Pretty chuffed' doesn't even come close to describe how I felt when these little beauties were done. I may have even done a little victory dance in the kitchen. 
Reading up on how to make them, I was struck by how frustrated these little innocent things can make even the most professional chef feel, so I honestly expected my first attempt to fail as well, but, I felt the fear and gave them a go anyway. Beginners luck or not, I made perfect macarons! And teamed with nutella, these are lethal...

I actually only had my first ever macaron a few weeks ago when I realised that they were naturally gluten free (i.e. you don't have to use anything special to make them that way).

Recipe courtesy of the one and only Nigella Lawson from 'How to be a Domestic Goddess'. 
Nigella says that description is irrelevant here and insists 'eat them' is simply enough. I'm going to go one step further and say 'make them', so you can see for yourself....


EAT ME - LITTLE CAKES IN A JAR


I spied these on mycakies blog a while ago and wanted give them a try and serve them up as favours for my 30th birthday party last week. They were a hit.  A complete faff, I'm not going to lie, but worth every ounce of effort and I'm so up for doing them again!

BIG FAT EASY BREAD STICKS


I eyed these up long ago when watching Lorraine Pascale whip them together and so I decided to give them a whirl for my birthday party last weekend. Unfortunately due to this whole going gluten free shebang I couldn't try them but feedback was super positive and they were gone in a jiffy.  The smell coming from the kitchen while baking them was almost enough to push me off the gluten free wagon, but I managed to resist the temptation. 

Normally when I make bread I'm a bit of a purist and refuse to use a mixer, but I confess that for these, because I was a pushed for time, I used my beloved Kenwood.  I have to admit that this did make life a lot simpler, and the kitchen a lot tidier. What also made it simple (and quick) was not having to leave it to rise twice - I was suprised I didn't have too and how well they turned out. Next time thought I'm going to try and see how they may be different if I do leave it...

I'll definitely be doing these again.


3 TIER CARROT CAKE

Carrot cake puts my head in a complete spin and I have spent a ridiculous amount of hours pouring over recipes trying to figure out what it is that makes a carrot cake a great carrot cake.  I find it so infuriating because I have a trusty recipe up my sleeve for most classic cakes but for some reason carrot cake has always got the better of me. I thought I had nailed it in my last carrot cake post but that was until I had a piece of my sister in law's mum's cake - it had a citrus kick that worked so well. So when I was tasked with making a carrot cake for a best friend's birthday I went back to the drawing board. The ironic thing is that after the hours of yet more research I ended up going full circle and landed right where it all began, only this time I added that citrus kick...

It was absolutely yummy, moist, light, had packs of flavour and importantly, it was gone in a flash. 

I made 2 batches of the recipe below, essentially 2 cakes, and just used the spare tier for the family. These also make smashing little cupcakes.

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