I go through phases of baking. Well, being a farmer’s wife I need to be able to bake on occasion.
But then I was asked to take part in the Home Bargains blogger baking challenge in celebration of Great British Bake Off. Well, cake and I, go together like mint and chocolate, so I couldn’t say no.
We’ve recently had a Home Bargains open in our town, and I love having a mooch around. I’ve also bought a few of their baking accessories, so I was excited to see what was in my blogger box to use for the challenge.
I’m not very inventive when it comes to baking so give me a recipe and I’m happy to follow it. But I do tend to swap things if I don’t have something in the larder. Usually sugar, because I always have dark or light muscovado in the larder, which I just replace with caster sugar if I’ve got none left.
The chocolate and peppermint loaf cake looked delicious but I’m terrible at cake decorating. The OH always moans that I never put icing on things…usually because it’s gone wrong. So I was interested to use ready to roll that I’ve never used before.
N decided he didn’t want to help so I sent him out on the farm and got to baking. I didn’t have enough After Eights for the cake so I bought some Matchmakers to add to the mix and decorate, and I only had standard caster sugar rather than the golden that I usually buy. It seems Morrisons don’t stock the unrefined version that I prefer. Boo.
Instead of using a square cake tin and repeating the mix and bake for the cake, I used the premium silicone loaf tray along with my existing silicone tray. I planned to half the cakes to create the 4 layers.
I’ve never baked with silicone before because I’m usually a bit old school. I don’t even use our Kenwood Chef mixer because I find mix just goes everywhere and I prefer to use either an electric hand mixer or mix by hand. I was quite impressed with the silicone. The Home Bargains version worked just as well as my other silicone tray although I did find that I had to leave the cakes in for a lot longer than the suggested 25 minutes. Double that time was nearer the length it was in, despite usually me having to put cakes in for less time. I’m not sure if that was the silicone or just a weird thing going on with my oven, or the fact that I had more cake depth using a loaf tin, than a square tin. Probably the latter.
I managed to break some of the cake removing one, and then cutting them in half was interesting too. That’s the one benefit of icing, that it covers up a multitude of sins.
The cake was really moist, but I decided that 4 layers would just be too much. So one layer got broken up and has been frozen to make cake pops at another date.
Then it was onto icing. Making the filling was easy enough, although I don’t think I would have had enough to cover the sides as well as the filling and top. Plus trying to spread it on the top was making it a bit crumbly, so I decided I’d just do a top layer of rolled icing instead of covering the whole cake.
I’ve never used ready to roll icing before. It warmed up really quickly, but I couldn’t get the food colouring I’d been sent to colour the icing without putting in loads. So I used some of my really good colouring – the ones like they use on bake off where you only need a dip of a cocktail stick to get the depth of colour you need. I ended up with just the right minty hue.
The Buttermere Cottage rolling pin was perfect to use for the icing. My big wooden rolling pin would have just stuck to the icing, but this clear solid perspex one was really easy to use. I liked the elastic bands which can be moved to make guidelines if you want to roll icing within a set space.
I cut down the icing to just bigger than the size of the cake and laid it on top. I had lots leftover so used the Buttermere Cottage 3 icing cutters to cut and pop out some leaves to decorate it. It was great fun using them, and the effect of the leaves came out really well. Adding some leftover matchmakers for branches worked for a bit more chocolatey minty colour and flavour.
Ok, so my cake’s never going to win a Country Show prize, but blimey it tasted good. Not too much icing, the peppermint flavour was just right, and the OH didn’t make a comment about it being too dry (the usual jokey comment from all the men around the farm whenever there’s cake around).
I was impressed with the baking equipment that Home Bargains sell. Cupcake cases, decorations, edible and inedible, stands, baking ingredients, tins and more. I’ll definitely be shopping there for baking products in future.
Chocolate and Peppermint Loaf Cake
170g salted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g dark chocolate, broken up
240g plain flour
180g golden caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
284ml carton buttermilk
300g After Eights, broken
50ml double cream
300g ready to roll icing
turquoise or green food colouring
1tsp peppermint extract
1, Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas mark 4. Grease and link the base and sides of 2x22cm square tins, or 2x loaf tins. If you only have one tin, half the mix and bake one lot, then repeat for the second bake.
2, Melt butter and chocolate together in a small pan. In a bowl, mix the floour, sugar cocoa and bicarb.
3, In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk. Scrape the melted chocolate mixture and egg mixture into the dry ingredients, along with 100ml boiling water. Mix briefly until lump free. Scrape into the tin and bake for 18-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. If you’re using a loaf tin or baking 2 tins at the same time you may need to increase the cooking time.
4, Cool the cake in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling while you make the filling.
5, Make the icing by melting the after eights and cream together in a saucepan (or a microwave). Cool, then chill until spreadable.
6, Trim the cake edge, then halve to make four rectangles. Use half of the icing to sandwich the layers together, then spread the rest over the top and sides. Chill.
7, Knead some colour and the peppermint extract into the ready to roll icing. Roll out on an icing sugar-dusted surface, the lift over to cover the cake, smoothing with your hands.. Trim excess then scatter with decorations.
8, Chill again for 1 hour to firm up, then serve or keep in the fridge until 30 minutes before serving.
The items I used were:
Buttermere cottage 23cm rolling pin £1.49
Buttermere Cottage set of 3 leaf fondant cutters 79p
Premium silicone baking tray £1.99
Are you a baker? Where do you buy your baking supplies from?
Disclosure: I received baking products to take part in the baking challenge.