Sunday, 28 September 2014

No-bake oat, chocolate and peanut butter bars

Mr CC’s workplace is hosting a big coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer on Monday in order to give everyone time to bake over the weekend rather than have to do it when they got home from work.  I’ve been beavering away making sponge cake and cupcakes and needed something very quick and easy for us to enjoy.  Cake for charity is an extremely worthwhile and noble thing but there’s also the saying that charity begins at home so I knew our own cake tin had to be well stocked too!

This really couldn’t be any quicker or easier.  Or any more delicious which, after all, is obviously the most important thing.  I am always partial to anything oaty – I’ve never met a flapjack I didn’t like, but the addition here of chocolate and peanut butter raises the bar and adds that salty-sweet element that everybody seems to adore.  The molten chocolate peanut butter mix was so glossy and beautiful that I had to photograph it:

The only tricky thing here is not to eat all the warm, buttery oat mix before it finds its way to the pan to chill.  Warning: do not taste a bit ‘just to see what it’s like’.  You will end up eating a pan full of warm oats and wondering if you have enough ingredients left to make a second batch!  I tasted a bit (which I realise makes me fall into the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ camp) and a second bit just to prove the first bit wasn’t misrepresentative of the whole...and after that had to dig deep into my self control reserve (not known for its depth) to leave it alone.  The smell was torturous to resist!

I think from this next picture you could guess that I’m left handed!


225g unsalted butter
100g soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
375g oats
200g milk chocolate
125g smooth peanut butter


Line a rectangular pan measuring approximately 24cm v 17cm with baking paper or non-stick foil.  Anything close to these dimensions will work so don’t worry if your pan is different.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat; don’t rush this – you don’t want the butter to take on any colour.

Stir in the sugar and vanilla.

Add the oats and stir well to combine.

Cook over the heat for about 5 minutes.

Divide the mixture in half and press one half evenly into the bottom of the prepared tin.

Put the remaining half to one side.

In a separate pan, gently melt the chocolate and peanut butter, stirring occasionally so the ingredients combine.

Pour over the oaty base in the tin and spread out so the base is completely covered.

Crumble the remaining half of oat mixture over the chocolate taking care to achieve an even distribution.

Lightly press the oats into the chocolate.

Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least three hours, ideally overnight.

Let come to room temperature before cutting into bars.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Orange madeira cake

There is something about the juicy flavour of orange that lifts a sponge and elevates it to something far beyond the sum of its parts, and yet I find that I don’t bake with it very often.  This is a conundrum.  To rectify this I found a madeira cake recipe that used lemon and switched it to orange, also adding an orange glaze.

Loaf cakes are very satisfying for a blogger – they are usually quick and easy to get into the oven, and you’re guaranteed nice even slices to photograph!  The shape of the tin provides a nice crust and a soft sponge underneath…no wonder they are Mr CC’s favourite (as a side note I am pleased to report that, while he doesn’t really understand why, he has learned that ‘dry’ is not taken as a compliment when critiquing sponge!)

This cake smells glorious while baking in the oven; it is a cake to bake while you have people looking around your home thinking of buying it!  The addition of a small amount of ground almonds also keeps the cake moist and gives it a lovely crumb.

Using freshly squeezed orange juice in the glace icing pays dividends; it’s almost confusing in your mouth because you’re eating icing but tasting orange juice – it really packs a punch in terms of flavour.


For the sponge:
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
grated zest of 1 orange
200g self raising flour
50g ground almonds

For the glaze:
100g icing sugar
enough orange juice to make an icing – add 1 teaspoon at a time


Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/340°F/gas mark 3.

Line a 900g loaf tin with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and whippy – don’t skimp on this stage.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding some of the flour if it looks like the mix might curdle (NB. Use this as a test – if you’ve beaten your butter and sugar enough it won’t curdle!)

Fold in the orange zest, flour and ground almonds.

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool, in the tin, for approximately 20 minutes before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake is cold you can make the icing: beat together the icing sugar and orange juice until you have a thick glossy glaze.  Add the orange juice 1 teaspoon at a time – it is very easy to make it too runny.

Spoon over the cake and let drizzle down the sides.

Serve in thick slices with a cup of tea.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Raspberry ripple cheesecake squares

This recipe was featured in the Sainsbury’s magazine – by far and away the best supermarket magazine in my opinion. The recipe, initially, looks like a very basic cheesecake with a bit of a fruity swirl on top.  Look closer and you will spot two less common twists to a cheesecake: firstly, the addition of ground pistachios to the biscuit base, and secondly, yoghurt in the cheesecake.  Both additions pack in extra flavour and I loved the tanginess the yoghurt added.  The pistachios in the base look so pretty:

I must confess I was dubious as to the quantities of the ingredients required for the topping – it looked so much! But the fact it is baked in a traybake tin rather than the more traditional round tin necessitates the larger quantity of cheesecake – and I don’t have a problem with making a bigger cheesecake! (Do take heed though, and use a deep tin!)

Restraint is the key to creating the ripple effect.  I have to force myself to stop about five swirls before I want to otherwise you lose the definition and it all looks an odd shade of pink rather than the lovely red/white contrast.  It’s the same with any marble cake too – I always have the urge to make just one more swirl (I am the Columbo of baking) and then regret it!

Now I must end on a rant.  Kraft – the makers of Philadelphia, my go to cream cheese provider – has relaunched their product.  Now aside from the fact I’m not sure it’s quite as tangy as it was before (it’s billed as ‘now even creamier’), to my horror, the pots now have less content.  What used to be a 300g pot is now 280g.  A 200g pot is now 180g.  This is not good news for recipes using cream cheese – such as this one – where 600g is needed.  Interestingly, the pot looks the same size...just with less filling.  No doubt it is so the price can be kept the same, but, if you are paying the same price for 6.7% less content then surely that is a price rise?  Do they think we’re stupid? Not to mention the extra annoyance that you now need to buy three pots where you previously would only need two.  I am not impressed Kraft, not impressed at all.


For the base:
100g pistachio nuts
200g ginger nut biscuits
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the topping:
600g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
450g Greek yoghurt – I used Total
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons cornflour

For the ripple:
150g raspberries
1 tablespoon icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C/320°F/gas mark 3.

Line a tin approximately 30cm x 20cm with baking paper.  Make sure the tin has a bit of depth to it – about 4cm minimum.  I used a disposable foil traybake tin as I find them easy to cut open and get the finished item out.

Put the nuts and biscuits into a food processor and blitz to crumbs.

Add the butter and blitz again until you have the texture of clumpy, wet sand.  NB. There is no need to melt the butter.

Press the crumbs into the prepared tin and ensure you have an even distribution.

Beat together all the ingredients for the topping until well combined.

Spoon over the biscuit base and level the surface.

Now make the ripple: blitz the raspberries and icing sugar together in a food processor.

Sieve to remove the seeds.

Blob the puree on top of the cheesecake and, using a skewer, swirl it around so it mixes a little with the cheesecake – don’t over swirl or you will lose the contrast and just end up with it looking pink!  Less is more!

Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until there’s a slight wobble but the mix isn’t runny.

Cool, in the tin, before refrigerating until you wish to serve.

Cut into generous squares.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Chocolate and ginger sandwich cake

I am extremely suggestible with my baking.  Like most bakers I have a ‘to bake’ list, but then I’ll come across a recipe in a magazine or online and think, ‘that’s what I’m baking next’ and the list goes out the window.  That’s what happened here – I saw this recipe in a Sunday supplement magazine and all I could think about was how lovely chocolate and ginger sponge sounded.  When I leave for work in the morning I have noticed the aromas of Autumn starting to appear and obviously Autumn means spice so this cake had to be!

This is going to sound a stupid question (possibly because it is) but why is stem ginger only ever in ball shapes?  Why not just irregular chunks – it would do the same thing but waste less ginger.  Who decided that the only appropriate shape for stem ginger was a sphere?  And why are they always roughly the same size, to the extent that recipes will say ‘use one ball of stem ginger’ like it’s an actual recognised weight?  Answers on a postcard to….

The ginger and chocolate are very well balanced in this recipe – you get a nice hit of chocolate followed by a gentle spicy warmth.  The sponge is particularly light with a lovely soft crumb.  Perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea. 

This post marks the 7th anniversary of The Caked Crusader.  Seven years! Where has the time gone?  I’m now pretty close to a recipe for each day of the that sounds like a good year!


For the sponge:
50g cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water
4 tablespoons milk
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 balls of stem ginger, very finely chopped -I used my mini food processor to blitz it small enough; if you don’t have one then consider grating it
175g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the buttercream:
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g icing sugar
2 tablespoons stem ginger syrup
1 tablespoon milk

To decorate: 1 ball of stem ginger, very finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line two 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tins with baking paper.

Start by making the cocoa paste: Stir the cocoa powder and boiling water together ensuring that there are no lumps.

Stir in the milk and take care to eliminate any powdery lumps.

Put the paste to one side.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together until smooth, whippy and creamy looking.  Do not skimp on this stage.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Beat in the ground ginger and the finely chopped stem ginger.

Stir in the cocoa paste.

Fold in the flour and the baking powder taking care that the ingredients are well incorporated.

Spoon into the prepared tins and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Now make the buttercream: beat the butter until it is pale and whippy.  I find that beating the butter first makes it lighter and easier to incorporate the icing sugar.

Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth and well combined.

Add the ginger syrup and milk and continue to beat until you have a lovely smooth  buttercream – the best test is to take a tiny amount on your tongue and press it against the roof of your mouth.  If it feels grainy you need to continue beating it to dissolve the sugar.
Place one sponge on the serving plate and spread half the buttercream over it.

Place the second sponge on top and spread the remaining buttercream over it.

Decorate with finely chopped stem ginger.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.