Neighbours gather to celebrate #MoreInCommon

We moved into our new house in Bristol at the end of June last year, just after the annual street party. We were rather gutted about this, as it would have been an awesome way to get to know our new neighbours. Not to worry, we’ve gradually been working away around the street as a result of Halloween trick or treating, Playing Out, and the new babysitting circle. But it wasn’t until this year’s street party, last weekend, that we properly felt a genuine part of our new community.

The Foxcote Road festivities were one of a wave of street parties across Bristol and the rest of the country to celebrate community, friendship and diversity, as part of both The Great Get Together (coordinated by the Jo Cox Foundation in honour of MP Jo Cox) and The Big Lunch, organised by the Eden Project’s Communities initiative.

Continue reading “Neighbours gather to celebrate #MoreInCommon”

Our ghastly Halloween showstopper

Every year I watch the Great British Bake Off and every year I feel inspired to get the kids in the kitchen to join me in creating some crazy, outlandish showstopper-style masterpiece*.

The problem is, and I know I’ve said this before on the blog, but I’m just not a natural-born baker. That’s not to say my bakes don’t taste good. Nine times out of ten they most certainly do. But all too often they just don’t look good. And that’s the whole point of a showstopper, isn’t it? To impress? To wow? So perhaps our attempt this year at a ghoulish bake for Halloween is more a pause-glance-and-nod-approvingly before moving on than a full-blown stop-them-in-their-tracks-in-awe showstopper. The children loved it though, and that’s what’s most important.

*easily interchangeable with ‘monstrosity’, but quite appropriate really for this time of year. Continue reading “Our ghastly Halloween showstopper”

Sloe syrup drizzle cake with caraway seeds

sloe syrup drizzle cake with caraway seeds

Instead of bottling a batch of sloe gin this year with my haul of sloe berries from the blackthorn in our garden, I decided to try something different and created sloe syrup using a recipe from Fuss Free Flavours.

It’s wonderful stuff and extremely versatile. Delicious poured over ice cream or pancakes, it is also perfect as a mixer for cocktails or adding to sparkling wine or champagne, while my daughters like it as a cordial mixed with fizzy water or lemonade.

And it also works a treat in baking, as in this variation on a lemon drizzle cake. I took a recipe for buttermilk loaf cake from the brilliant What To Bake And How To Bake It by Jane Hornby, added a few caraway seeds (I can’t get enough of these in cakes at the moment) and liberally doused the cake, while still warm from the oven, in the sweet, sticky sloe syrup. The end result is simply gorgeous and very, very moreish. Continue reading “Sloe syrup drizzle cake with caraway seeds”

Jessie’s chocolate orange chess cake

chess cake5

My oldest daughter has a thing for making the teeny-tiniest models out of Plasticine. She loves to create tiny food items, like burgers and cakes, and she recently made miniatures of the Blue Peter characters in order to try and win herself another BP badge.

blue peter

For her current homework assignment, Jessie decided to bring two of her favourite activities, model-making and baking, together in the form of this ambitious chocolate chess cake, inspired by the Great British Bake Off and now Junior Bake Off.

New Horizons is the theme of her homework project and over the course of a month, she has to  try her hand at a number of new things and write them up as a special report. As well as this monumental show-stopper of a bake, she’s also tried her hand at SLR photography, stop motion videos and is having a squash lesson from her dad at the weekend.

To be totally honest, I wasn’t entirely sure she’d make this baking experiment work. Why not start with flapjacks or a fridge cake? But work it most certainly did. Not only did it look suitably impressive, it was also extremely delicious too. Continue reading “Jessie’s chocolate orange chess cake”

Calling all bakers: tell your best children’s stories in cake!

Official C&B Show logo

With four shows in four new venues, the Cake & Bake Show is bigger than ever this year, and includes a BAKING COMPETITION on the theme of ‘Children’s Stories’ taking place at each of the venues: Harrogate, London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

The Cake & Bake Show is calling on all cake makers to create a fabulous cake that is an interpretation of a children’s story. Each cake creation can be inspired from any children’s story or film, (there’s lots of inspiration in the cinemas this summer with new releases Minion, Peter Pan and Jurassic Park); or it can be a combination of your favourite characters or stories from over the years! Continue reading “Calling all bakers: tell your best children’s stories in cake!”

Apple and mincemeat streusel slice

Mincemeat streusel slice web

If you’re anything like me, at the start of December you have all these great plans for all the foods you’re going to make from scratch for Christmas. But as the month passes by, you realise there’s no just no way you can do everything you planned and you resort, as usual, to the shop-bought versions instead. Mince pies are a case in point for me. Every year without fail, I promise myself I’ll make my own this year. And every year without fail, I end up buying them in.

So, if like me, you have a jar of mincemeat sat in your cupboard, don’t let it skulk there until next Christmas. Now that we’re into January and things have calmed down a bit, why not make the most of it by baking this gorgeous apple and mincemeat streusel slice? It’s just the ticket for cheering up a wet and dreary afternoon with a good strong cup of hot tea. Continue reading “Apple and mincemeat streusel slice”

Swiss roll ice cream cake

swiss roll ice cream cake3 web

This is going to sound nutty but I’ve started watching cookery shows at six in the morning. I’m on a desperate get-healthy-lose-weight kick and so, as well as going back on the 5:2 diet, I’ve also started getting up half an hour earlier than I need to in order to fit in some exercise time. And I’ve found one of the best ways of taking my mind off all the stomach crunches and tricep dips is to watch celebrity chefs on the Food Network at the same time. I know. It’s not normal behaviour, is it?

The other morning I found myself drooling while I worked out as Lorraine Pascale made her Swiss Roll Bowl Cake. It looked so insanely easy and yet such a work of genius at the same time, I decided there and then I had to make it. My kids would love it, and I only need have the tiniest sliver. What’s more it’s frozen, so it’ll be around for a while. Plenty of time to have a few tiny slivers. On non 5:2 fast days, of course. Continue reading “Swiss roll ice cream cake”

Chocolate fruit cake for Christmas

chocolate fruit christmas cake3 text

Today is Stir Up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent and traditionally the day for making Christmas puddings and cakes. We, however, are breaking slightly with tradition here at Chez Bangers. Instead of making our usual Amaretto Christmas cake, this year we’ve gone for something slightly different. Continue reading “Chocolate fruit cake for Christmas”

Halloween ghost cake pops

Halloween ghost cake pops text

My last Halloween offering definitely wasn’t going to win any awards in the most attractive bake category (despite how much fun the kids had creating them), but these little spooky cake pops are much, much cuter.

My daughter Jessie and I made these for her school bake sale and from all accounts they were a big hit. The girls say they’d all sold out before they even made it into the school hall.

Halloween ghost cake pops2

Cake pops are always a hit with children but I avoid making them too often. They’re not at all difficult, just a little long-winded and involved. So if you plan to have a go at these, do make sure you leave yourself plenty of time.

The good people at Dr Oetker kindly sent me a big bag of ingredients in order to make this cake pops recipe, developed by Juliet Sear who is part of their Even Better Baking Team. The recipe is below and for more practical hints and tips, you can watch the video tutorial over on YouTube.

The cake at the centre of these wee little ghosties is a delicious chocolate fudge brownie, which this recipe has you making from scratch. If you want to make life a little easier, you could always use a shop-bought chocolate cake – just make sure it’s a nicely moist and squidgy one. The brownie balls are covered in a layer of white chocolate, before being dressed in their ghostly regal icing robes.

Halloween ghost cake pops

Makes 20 cake pops

For the cake balls
120g Dr Oetker 72% Cocoa Extra Dark Fine Cooks Chocolate
150g soft unsalted butter at room temp
200g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp Dr Oetker Madagascan Vanilla extract
125g Plain Flour

For the cake pops
2 X 100g bags of Dr Oetker White Chocolate Chips melted for sticking the balls onto the sticks & coating the cake pops
20 cake pop sticks

To decorate the ghosts
1 pack of Dr Oetker White Regal Ice
icing sugar for rolling out
Dr Oetker White Designer Icing for sticking the regal ice to the cake pops
Dr Oetker Jet Black Gel Food Colour

Preheat the oven to 140°C / gas mark 1).

Grease and line an 18cm (7 inch) square cake tin.

To make the fudge brownie mix, melt the extra dark chocolate in a microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time until melted, or in a heatproof bowl on a gentle heat over a bain marie. Leave to cool.

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Gradually add the eggs a little at a time, mixing until combined.

Add the cooled chocolate stirring continuously. Add the vanilla extract and stir. Gradually fold in the flour until just combined. Take care not to over beat.

Pour the mix into your cake tin and bake for around 40 mins. Check it with a sharp knife or metal skewer. You want this to be slightly under baked, so the knife should come out with a nice paste stuck to the knife.

Leave the cake to cool, then turn out into a bowl and crumble with your hands to a fine, fudgy crumb.

To make the cake balls, take a handful of fudge cake mix and squeeze together tightly – you are aiming for little balls about the size of a large walnut, approximately 30g each. If the mixture is dry, the addition of a little melted chocolate or vanilla butter cream will help the mixture stick.

Melt the white chocolate chips in the same way as the dark chocolate earlier.

Dip the end of a stick into the melted white chocolate and push the stick into a ball, about half way in. Hold the ball to stop it splitting open when the stick goes in. Continue with all the balls.

Once all the cake pops are ready, pop them into the freezer for 30 mins, so the balls are firm enough to hold when dipping in the coating. Keep the melted white chocolate in a warm place to stop it from setting.

When the cake balls are firm, plunge each one into the white chocolate until completely covered. Tap the cake pop gently on the side of the bowl to shake off the excess.

To decorate the ghosts, roll out half the white regal icing into a large rectangle using plenty of icing sugar and a large plastic rolling pin. Roll fairly thinly – 2 to 3mm thick. Squeeze a little Designer Icing onto the tops of the cake pops or brush with some melted white chocolate to keep the icing sheet in place.

Using a cake cutter or small bowl, cut out circles of regal icing and place on each of the pops, smoothing down with your fingers to create the white sheet effect.

Decorate each one with a ghostly expression using the black gel food colour and a fine brush.

Halloween ghost cake pop

 

These spooky cake pops are perfect for making with little ones and so I’m entering them into this month’s Family Foodies ‘Cooking With Kids’ challenge, a month bloggers event hosted by Eat Your Veg and me, Bangers & Mash.

family-foodies

Disclosure: I received complimentary ingredients from Dr Oetker in order to try out this recipe. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.

Banana, ginger and chocolate cake

banana ginger chocolate cake

I realise there’s been a rather manic, end-of-month flurry of activity on the blog but here’s another last minute recipe, which I just had to squeeze in just in time to make the deadline for this month’s Spice Trail challenge.

The theme for March has been ginger and I’ve received a brilliant selection of ginger goodies; the round-up promises to be a real treat.

This last entry from me is a very easy-to-make banana sponge, featuring delightful chunks of chewy, crystallised ginger and dark chocolate chips, lavishly topped with a gorgeously decadent chocolate buttercream. It’s certainly not one for the weight-watchers I’m afraid, but my family made light work of getting through it, and as the cake does contain three bananas there is a little goodness in there as well as the naughty stuff. Life is all about balance, after all.

banana ginger chocolate

Banana, ginger and chocolate cake

Serves 12

120g soft butter, plus a little more for the tins
250g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
160g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
3 ripe bananas, mashed
75g dark chocolate chips
30 crystallised ginger, chopped into small chunks

For the chocolate buttercream

150g good quality chocolate (dark or milk, you decide)
225g butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

I also used Dr Oetker chocolate hearts to decorate.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.

Butter and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, vanilla and milk. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and then fold in the mashed banana, chocolate chips and crystallised ginger.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the chocolate buttercream, melt the chocolate in a microwave on a low setting or in a bowl over a pan of just-simmering water. Leave to cool a little. Beat the butter in another bowl until pale, and then beat in the icing sugar and vanilla. Add the chocolate and mix well.

Spread the chocolate buttercream generously over the cake and, if you like, decorate with chocolate hearts or something similar.

Enjoy!

banana ginger chocolate cake

 

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