Cake, Sweet

Moka Coffee Cake for Shaun

I have been finished from work almost a week now on maternity leave and I have to say I have really been enjoying myself.
Obviously my baking time is limited to the amount of energy I have or whether I ache too much to stand for too long but it has been great being able to take things at my own pace, especially with my baking.

My first task when I finished work was to bake my husband a coffee cake. I always ask people what they would like me to make and a lot of the time I think they think I am joking so never actually say what they would like to eat. Luckily my husband isn’t as shy so when I asked, he said he wanted a coffee cake.

I’m not a huge fan of coffee cake myself but I do have a special ingredient in the cupboard that I love, Moka Varnelli. I have written about it before but if you don’t fancy reading that, it is a coffee moka liquor made by Varnelli which comes from Italy, in particular the Marche region where some of my family is from. It is notoriously difficult to get unless you go over there to buy it or want to pay a lot of money to buy a bottle from the internet.

Anyway, the taste of the coffee liquor is wonderful so I based the design and taste of the cake around it and it seemed to go down very well with me, my husband, and my parents (much to the disdain of Shaun at having to share his cake).
It is such an easy and simple recipe that it is definitely one I will be making again.

Moka Coffee Cake

3oz light brown sugar
3oz granulated sugar
6oz Margarine
3 large eggs
7oz Self raising flour
1tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 tbls Moka Varnelli

For the buttercream
Margarine (I use Stork)
Icing Sugar
2 tbls Moka Varnelli

A little dark chocolate to decorate

Pre-heat the oven till gas mark 4, 160c

In a bowl mix the two types of sugars into the margarine until they become a nice light colour. You can’t over beat the mixture at this stage so make sure it is well mixed.

Add an egg and two tablespoons of flour and combine till just mixed. Do the same with the other 2 eggs and flour. There will be a little flour left so add this along with the cocoa powder after you have mixed the rest in. Try to only combine the ingredients and don’t over mix.

Add the Moka Varnelli and again stir till just combined.

Split the mixture into two 8″ cake tins which have been lined with greaseproof paper.

Put into the pre-heated oven and bake for 25 minutes. You should easily be able to tell when the cakes are cooked because if you press on the top then it should spring back to shape. If it doesn’t seem fully cooked yet then put back in for 5 minute intervals.

Take the cakes out of the tins once they are cool enough to handle and on one side of the cake paint or drizzle over a small amount of Moka Varnelli, then allow the cakes to fully cool.

Whilst you are waiting make the buttercream:
I never give exact measurements for making buttercream icing as I just put it into a bowl and mix together. I would advise using a large bowl and spooning a large wooden spoons worth of margarine (if you have butter then this tastes even richer) and adding in 4-5 tablespoons of icing sugar. Mix the two together carefully. At first it will seem like they will never combine and then all of a sudden they do! Once you have done this add the Moka Varnelli and then mix in a further 2-3 tablespoons of icing sugar. Mix until the icing sugar is all combined and the mixture looks lovely and fluffy – now is a good time to try it for taste.

Once the cakes have fully cooled, pipe buttercream into the centre and a few small blobs onto the top of the cake. Join the two halves together but don’t press down too hard!
Melt some dark chocolate and pipe any interesting shapes or words onto greaseproof paper. Cool the chocolate shapes in the fridge and then once hard peel off and use to decorate.

Cupcake, Sweet

A different kind of bun in the oven

Recently I have been struggling to bake due to feeling very tired and sick.  Usually I do my baking in the evening after work as a way of relaxing but I have been having difficulty keeping awake long enough to do any baking.

The reason for this is because me and my husband are expecting our first child and after our scan it now feels a good time to announce it.  Our little baby will be due in October!

To celebrate both getting my energy back as I move into the 2nd trimester and also having a successful scan I have baked some simple cupcakes for my work colleagues in pink and blue.  I thought it might be a bit of fun as you can make your guess by choosing which cake you like.

This recipe for cupcakes is the one I use all of the time as it makes a lovely soft, fluffy vanilla cupcake which is a base for any decoration you want.

Girl or boy? Vanilla cupcake recipe

6oz butter/margarine
6oz Sugar
7.5oz Self raising flour
3 medium eggs
1 tsp Vanilla essence

For the buttercream
Mix some butter or margarine with lots of icing sugar and a little vanilla essence. Beat until it is light and fluffy. There isn’t an exact recipe as it will always taste nice. Keep beating in more icing sugar till you get the taste you like.

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4 or 160c

Line a cake tin with 12 large cupcake cases (in the UK use muffin cases)
In a bowl mix the butter and sugar together until the mix is light and fluffy and changes to a pale colour.
Add 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 egg and mix in. Then do the same with the other 2 eggs and flour.
When all of the flour and eggs have been combined mix in the vanilla essence.
Divide the mix between the 12 cases equally and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Make sure you don’t open the oven door to have a look till at least 20 minutes have passed.
Test to see if the cakes are done. They should bounce back when you press gently on the top or if a skewer comes out clean.

When they have cooled on a rack, decorate with a generous amount of buttercream and decorate however you fancy. For mine I used some glitter writing icing and sprinkled with coloured sugar.

Cake, Sweet

Easy Peasy chocolate cake with raspberry jam and chocolate frosting

The good thing about enjoying baking is that there is always an opportunity to bake at any occasion, however big or small.

Tonight we are going to see our friends who are having a baby very soon so I thought it would be nice to take along a cake as well as a present for the little baby to be.

Because I was working in the day I needed to make a cake that would be quick and easy to do and didn’t really need any thinking about so i went for my favourite, chocolate cake. 

I havent got too many ingredients in my baking store cupboard at the moment but I always have the things to make a chocolate cake.  I also always have raspberry jam as a staple so that would go nice as a filling and then to decorate I thought i would make a simple chocolate buttercream on it with grated white chocolate and milk chocolate drops. 

It’s not a hugely elegant design but it does say, put the kettle on and EAT ME!

Simple Chocolate Cake

6oz Self raising flour

1oz cocoa powder
3 medium eggs
6oz butter/margarine
6oz caster sugar
Tsp Vanilla extract

For buttercream
2-3oz margarine or room temperature butter
2-3 tbsp icing sugar
1tbsp cocoa powder
Drop of vanilla essence

Pre-heat the oven to 180c or Gas mark 4 and line two 8″ round cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Put the butter/marg and sugar into a bowl and cream together till it goes a nice pale yellow colour.
Add the vanilla extract and mix in well.
Measure out the flour and cocoa powder and mix together in a separate bowl.
Put one egg and two tablespoons of flour/cocoa powder into the creamed butter/marg mix and gently mix together till it has all combined. Do the same with the next two eggs and flour, until they are mixed in then add the last part of the flour and fold in together.
Try not to over mix but you also don’t want any lumps, it should be a nice smooth mix that just drops off the spoon.

Separate into the 2 cake tins and put into the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Make sure you don’t open the oven door before 20 minutes as you risk the cake sinking.

Press the top of the cake with your fingers and if it springs back up (or a skewer comes out clean) then it is done, if not then put back in for 4 minutes at a time.

Turn out and leave to cool.

To make the buttercream is easy because you don’t have to be very exact with this.
Mix the butter or marg till it is soft in a bowl with the drop of vanilla essence.
Then carefully work in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Do this a little bit at a time until it is sweet enough for you and is a lovely soft consistency. It will get fluffier the more you mix it.

To assemble the cake, put a small bit of jam onto a cake board and put the base of your cake onto it.
Spread plenty of raspberry jam onto the base (about 2-3 tbsp) and spread evenly but don’t go right to the edges as when you put the top on it will squidge it all down a little.
Put the top of the cake on and then cover in a layer of your chocolate buttercream.

You can add your own decorations and make it as fancy or simple as you like. I went for simple and put some milk chocolate chips on and then grated white chocolate all over.

It is now ready to eat and will last a few days if stored in a tin… though cake doesnt last long in our house.

Biscuit, Sweet

Moka Melting Little Kisses

For Christmas this year we were given a bottle of Caffe Moka Varnelli by my Auntie and Uncle, which is a delicious chocolate coffee liqueur.  Now, you probably haven’t heard of this or seen it in the shops as it isn’t something you can’t buy easily in the UK – it is Italian, and from the Marche region to be precise.

The Marche region is very special to our family as it is where my Italian side of the family come from and every year we go for our holiday there to the same little town, where we spend time with my Great Aunties, get some sun and eat… lots.

After tasting the liqueur last Christmas I knew that I really wanted to do some baking with it.  I originally decided on making a coffee cake and replacing the usual coffee with the Varnelli but after my mom looked through one of my recipe books she asked if I fancied making some ‘melting moments’ which are also sometimes called ‘Viennese Whirls’.

The recipe I have created is on the same lines as melting moment biscuit as it is very crumbly and melts in the mouth but I have made a few changes to the recipe to make it have a rich chocolate taste and a Caffe Moka buttercream filling instead of the recipe lemon.  The other big change that I have made is to change their appearance, though this has been through necessity and not through preference.
Usually these have a lovely swirl piped pattern to them, however, my biscuits were made by rolling a small amount of the mixture into a ball and then flattening onto the tray with my fingers.  I would have loved to have had beautiful piped swirls but I don’t have the right nozzle for my piping bag so it is a bit of a made do change.

I also changed the name as they now resemble Italian biscuits called Baci, which means kisses.

Moka Melting Little Kisses

This recipe will make about 14-20 complete cookies

250g margarine or Butter
50g Icing Sugar
210g Plain Flour
2 tbsp Coco Powder
75g Corn Flour
1 tbsp Caffe Moka Varnelli

For the buttercream filling:
60g margarine or Butter
75g Icing Sugar
2-3 tbsp Caffe Moka Varnelli (could be substituted with Tia Maria or instant coffee dissolved into boiling water and left to cool)

Mix together the butter or margarine together with the sugar until pale then stir in both flours, coco powder and Varnelli.

Either pipe the mixture onto a non-stick baking sheet using a wide star nozzle or measure out teaspoon amounts of the mix and roll in your hands till ball shaped, then flatten with your fingers.  This method can be a bit messy and sticky but instead of  adding flour, just roll quickly.  If it is too sticky then chill in the fridge first.

Bake in the oven set to Gas Mark 5, approx 190c for about 12-17 minutes.  The time will depend on how big or small your cookies are.  To work out if they are done they should be soft if pressed gently but with a little bounce in them.  They will set more as they cool on the rack.

Whilst cooling, mix the buttercream.  To do this combine all of the icing ingredients and beat in a bowl till lovely and fluffy.

Pipe the buttercream into swirls on one of the cookies then sandwich with a second one.

Finally, make a cuppa tea or coffee and enjoy your biscuits.  They will be extremely crumbly so handle with care.