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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Birthday Chocolate Cake


For the cake
  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 350g/12½oz caster sugar
  • 85g/3oz cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 250ml/9fl oz milk
  • 125ml/4½fl oz vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250ml/9fl oz boiling water
For the chocolate icing
  • 200g/7oz plain chocolate 
  • 200ml/7fl oz double cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins.

  2. For the cake, place all of the cake ingredients, except the boiling water, into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, or electric whisk, beat the mixture until smooth and well combined.
  3. Add the boiling water to the mixture, a little at a time, until smooth. (The cake mixture will now be very liquid.)

  4. Divide the cake batter between the sandwich tins and bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely, still in their tins, before icing.
  6. For the chocolate icing, heat the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the mixture until smooth, glossy and thickened. Set aside to cool for 1-2 hours, or until thick enough to spread over the cake.
  7. To assemble the cake, run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the cake tins to loosen the cakes. Carefully remove the cakes from the tins.

  8. Spread a little chocolate icing over the top of one of the chocolate cakes, then carefully top with the other cake.
  9. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and ice the cake all over with the chocolate icing, using a palette knife.

    Recipe from the BBC website

Sunday, 9 October 2011

How to make chilli and herb infused oils

This christmas I have decided to make some tasty treats for my family and friends. A great gift for any one who cooks (or eats) is infused oils, easy to make and they look great too! Below are my recipes for chilli and basil infused oils.

Chilli Oil

  • 100g red chillies
  • Extra green and read whole chillies for decoration
  • 1 Litre groundnut oil
  • 2 tbsp paprika

  1. Remove the stalks from the chillies and chop them (I kept them quite big as you have to strain them out of the oil after and this made it a bit easier). Add the chillies to a large pan and add the oil.

2. Heat the oil gently until it nearly reaches 120 oC, then simmer for 15 mins (don't let it get any hotter I would definitely recommend getting a cooking thermometer for this!).

3. Remove from the heat, cool slightly and stir in the paprika. Leave to cool completely, then strain with a sift.

4. Sterilise some bottles (the best say to do this is put them on a really hot wash in the dish washer) and fill them with the whole chillies and top up with oil. You can use these straight away for cooking, in soups and salads or just dip some crusty bread in it!

Basil Oil

  • 1 Litre Light Olive Oil
  • 150g Basil

1. Heat the oil gently in a pan until it reaches 40 oc (you will need a cooking thermometer for this!).

2. Lightly bruise the basil and put it into warm sterilised bottles (the best say to do this is put them on a really hot wash in the dish washer). Pour in the warm oil and then seal. This oil will be ready in 3-4 weeks, use within 3-4 months after this the bails will become slimy.

You could also try these oils with rosemary, coriander or thyme with lemon.