Easy Mid-Week Cookies – Oatmeal Raisin & Double Chocolate

easy midweek cookies double chocolate oatmeal raisin recipe with one egg yolk

Why are they called mid-week cookies? Do you ever get a couple of days into work and feel like it should be the weekend already? These are a great little therapeutic bake and perfect sugary pick-me-up, to make it that little bit easier to get out of bed tomorrow.

The basic recipe will give you yummy plain sugar cookies, but is so easily adapted to whatever flavourings or additions you’d like.

Ingredients

125g butter
30g caster sugar
40g brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon golden syrup
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
Teaspoon of vanilla essence
150g plain flour

Adaptations:

Oatmeal raisin
Add 50g oats and 50g raisins, plus 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional
Use wholemeal plain flour for something that’s bordering on a healthy snack!

Double chocolate
Substitute 30g flour for 30g cocoa powder. Add in 50-75g of whatever chocolate chips or chunks you have to hand – I had some milk chocolate buttons lying around

Method
– beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Trust me it’s worth it. Use an electric mixer for speed/if you’ve had a particularly bad week
– add the remaining ingredients, including any extras, and mix well until everything is combined. If making a drier mix (like oatmeal raisin) you may need to get your hands in there to knead together properly.
– grease a baking sheet well (I use cake release spray), and roll balls or drop teaspoons of your dough on, depending on how wet your mixture is

I shaped the oatmeal raisin into balls, before rolling in a 50/50 brown sugar and oat mix for extra crunch. When on the baking sheet I pressed them out so they were a little flatter.

oatmeal raisin cookie recipe egg yolk rolling in oats and brown sugar easy

For the double chocolate, the batter was wonderful and sticky so I used teaspoons full, well spread, and each topped with another chocolate button.

easy gooey chocolate chunk cookie recipe egg yolk topped with chocolate button

– bake at 180 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Check back regularly and take out as they start to brown, don’t over-bake or you’ll lose the great chewy cookie texture. Allow to cool at least a little, but make sure you try one while they’re still warm!

easy midweek oatmeal raisin golden crunchy chewy cookies egg yolk recipe

double chocolate cookies biscuits with chocolate buttons easy one egg yolk recipe

See – I told you it was easy! Two sets of cookies, mixed, baked and eaten in under an hour!

oatmeal raisin and double chocolate cookies square plates easy recipe

Try not to eat them all at once – calling in sick with a stomach is not the answer to a bad week! Roll on the weekend… 🙂

double chocolate and oatmeal raisin best chewy easy cookies recipe

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Dr. Who Tardis Lemon & Blueberry Birthday Cake

doctor dr who tardis police box birthday cake blue fondant squares

A busy week for birthdays! This cake is one for one of my best friends, who absolutely loves all things Dr. Who. He also loves all things tea and cake (and features in a fair number of my posts on the subject!) so it wasn’t hard to bake him something he’d like.

I wanted the inside of the cake to allude to the Tardis exterior, hence the blueberries. After a looking for a few recipes, this one over at allrecipes was my favourite, although I adapted it a bit for the size of cake I wanted:

Ingredients

120g butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
175g plain flour plus one tablespoon set aside
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g blueberries plus a few extra for the top
50ml milk

Method

– Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs
– Add the vanilla, baking powder, salt, flour (sieved) and milk and fold until smooth. For the true tarsus effect inside I also added a smidge of blue food gel colouring at this stage
– roll the blueberries in the remaining tablespoon of flour, so they all have a light coating. Add to the mixture and fold just a few more times, don’t over-mix them. (The flour coating helps stop them all sinking to the bottom)
– pour into a greased tin (around 15cm square tin or slightly large round, or equivalent), and sprinkle with the remaining blueberries

blueberry pound cake with fresh fruit topping batter ready to bake

– bake at 180 degrees for 35 – 50 minutes, dependent on oven and size of cake tin. Check it’s done by inserting a skewer or toothpick, if it comes out clean your cake is ready!

rectangle blueberry pound cake for doctor who tardis cake

I let the cake cool completely before covering the top and sides with a thick layer of lemon buttercream – a perfect complement to the fruity cake and sweet fondant covering.

blueberry pound cake covered in lemon butter icing

It took rather a while to get a dark blue for the fondant and I’m still not sure it’s quite what I wanted. Using a good amount of Wilton royal blue, with little dabs of black, it got to a point where the colour was just not improving, so I had to stop!
This cake is probably the first time I’ve used a ruler in my baking – after covering the whole cake in the blue fondant, I carefully measured and cut smaller squares out of the same blue for the door panels. They were stuck on with edible glue, and finished with a little silver edible glitter.

doctor who tardis birthday cake with blue fondant squares silver glitter measured with a ruler

One of the biggest challenges for the Tardis was the Police Box sign itself – a black base with tiny white lettering. I tried a couple of small letter stamps but they just weren’t working out. In the end I used a plastic food bag, with plain white icing, and cut a very tiny tip out of the corner for my ‘nozzle’. A bit shaky in places but it turned out ok!

doctor who tardis cake black fondant iced with police public call box in white

A few more details in place – black and white window panes with piped grey edging, a white fondant panel with writing added (using a black food pen), and extra fondant details for the small round door symbol, and yellow top light.

doctor dr who birthday cake tardis police box yellow light on top blue fondant windows and iced sign

The completed cake! Sorry for all you Doctor Who buffs that it’s not 100% accurate – I could have spent a lot longer with my ruler! – but I’m happy that the overall effect looks as it should, the important details are there, and there’s no disguising that’s one big blue Tardis!

doctor who tardis cake birthday blueberry and lemon how to fondant

The birthday boy certainly loved his cake…

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And inside – a true Tardis through and through!

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Scooby Doo Chocolate Birthday Cake

scooby doo cartoon network birthday cake rob name how to chocolate fondant no special wilton tin

Happy birthday to my Rob! Can you believe it’s a year ago since I made his guitar birthday cake? Doesn’t time fly…!

Scooby Doo is his favourite cartoon character, and I’d planned and stocked up on chocolate fondant before we went away, knowing it’d have to be a quick turn around as soon as we got back. As luck would have it (honestly I didn’t even think he was part of their brand), WHO did we meet at Universal Studios whilst we were in LA last week??

universal studios hollywood california april 2013 photo with scooby doo and daphne sunshine

Wilton make some lovely Scooby Doo pans that I’m sure make life much easier, but I’d searched and searched around and couldn’t find one either to buy or rent for under about £20. Given my love for trying things new and not wanting to repeat cakes, I decided that really was too much to spend. So – I set about my own way of doing it! With a simple template, I found the image online, printed it, and cut it out. I also printed a mirror image so I could flip it over and press through the detail where needed.

scooby doo cake how to print off opposite pictures for template and stencil

I wanted the cake itself to be quite sturdy, as it had to hold shape when trimmed and cut. Normal victoria sponge just wouldn’t be up to this – so I used this chocolate pound cake recipe from the BBC. It was straightforward, easy to follow.

To get the cake into shape, I started with an oversized rectangular shape, my alphabet and number tin. After placing the template inside, I blocked off any squares that were completely outside the shape, so as not to waste too much cake.

scooby doo cake instructions without special pan start with rectangular or square tin paper template

Once completely cool, I put the template back on top and carefully trimmed into shape, with a sharp serrated knife.

scooby doo birthday cake instructions chocolate paper template to shape cake

Can you guess what it is yet…?!

shaped chocolate cake from scooby doo paper template printed online

Next up, to retain moisture, and give the icing a good base to stick to, I added a layer of chocolate buttercream, being sure to get in all the corners and nooks and crannies. Once smoothed out, the cake went into the fridge for at least half an hour, so the icing could firm up, and wouldn’t squish all over the place when it was iced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little bit of smoothing, snipping, and tucking later…:

chocolate fondant covered cake edges trimmed and tucked for neatness silver board

Finally it was time to start the details. To create the black cartoon edging, I simply took a fine paintbrush, and very carefully painted on the lines with black gel food colouring. It did take quite some time, and needed a day to dry, but was so effective.

Starting with the outline, and added coloured fondant for the nose and collar:

building up scooby doo birthday cake nose outline ears collar fondant all edible

Finished details on the collar, complete with dog tag!

scooby doo dog cartoon birthday cake green gold and blue collar edged in black food colouring

For the eyes and mouth, I used some white fondant (plus a little extra black for those googly eyeballs!) Again the template came in handy, as I could shape the fondant on top of the paper before sticking to the cake with a little edible glue.

scooby doo birthday cake detail face big black wet dog nose white smile google cross eyed

Finally, I wanted to add Rob’s name for the cake. My letter stencils really aren’t great at making free-form letters, they never come out of the mould! So, I tried a different approach – very lightly wetting the cake board in a small area, and laying a strip of fondant over the top. I dipped and brushed the letters well with corn flour, before pressing them very firmly into the fondant.

rob icing name on cake board how to letter stencils orange

Then, very carefully, I peeled away the excess and the inside of the letters (does he have the most difficult letters in his name or what!), finishing with a teensy bit of glitter.

rob orange name made out of fondant on cake board edible

And tada! The finished cake! It was a complete surprise to Rob so I kept the candles just on the collar, so as not to ruin Scooby Doo’s face before he saw it.

scooby doo chocolate birthday cake instructions finished with candles rob

One very happy (although slightly jet-lagged) birthday boy! Number of candles not representative of his actual age… 🙂

rob with scooby doo chocolate birthday cake happy wine candles

Dedicated to Cupcakes – Sprinkles Bakery, LA

Following our travels in New Zealand we hopped on yet another plane in search of some California sunshine. I’ll keep it short for the sake of you still shivering back in the UK, but lets just say, we found it. On a daily basis. Bliss!

Of course no trip would be complete without a cake stop, and I knew LA had to be famed for something in this area – all those stars need sugar after all!
A quick search led me to Sprinkles Bakery, widely credited as the first dedicated cupcake bakery in the world. It was happy coincidence that the area we were in was the location of their very first bakery, opened in 2005, and of course we stopped by to have a sample.

Sprinkles Beverly Hills is set just 2 blocks (streets!) away from Rodeo Drive, and in a prime location to refuel after a hard days shopping.

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On the palm lined streets, the bright exterior is easy to spot:

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Look closely and you can see my parents enjoying a coffee on the far left!

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Inside, for such a popular bakery (and with so many cupcakes on offer), the store is really quite tiny. The whole time we were there the queue was almost out the door.

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And the cupcakes? Oh my what a selection!

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And as if that wasn’t enough, the extras menu… A shot of frosting for when you really need a sugar hit?!

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Although I’m not a personal fan of baking from mixes – how cute are these?

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Finally we made our selections – clockwise from top: strawberry, milk chocolate, lemon coconut, and chocolate marshmallow

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One big bite into my strawberry cupcake – look at all that frosting, and the moist, spongy cake! Both the cake and the icing were made with fresh strawberry purée, and it was completely yummy 🙂

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On the way out I grabbed one of their menu cards, look at all those amazing flavours! I think we’ll just have to come back some day and try more…

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And one final snap of delicious cupcake-ness – not content with being the worlds first cupcake bakery, they now have the worlds first cupcake ATM!
So even when the bakery is closed, you can still get a cupcake fix! Fantastic… or one step too far?

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Needless to say we loved our trip to Sprinkles and had a fantastic time in California. As I write this from LAX airport, waiting to board the plane, I’ll miss the sunshine but can’t wait to get back in the kitchen!

Cakes with the Kiwis

Kia Ora from New Zealand!

We have spent 1 1/2 beautiful weeks here in Aotearoa, touring from Tauranga, through Rotorua, Taupo, and Napier, crossing the islands by ferry and ending our journey in Christchurch.

Although a lot of the hotels and motels come with small, well-stocked kitchenettes, I have to say the only cooking I’ve done is to put a slice of bread in the toaster!

But of course, we have made time for cake along the way!

Hot cross buns over Easter weekend:

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– in sulphuric, stunning but very smelly Rotorua –

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Tuesday last week was my dad’s birthday, we bought him a gooey caramel slice cake and couldn’t help but top it with candles!

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Big slices enjoyed with a beach view, on the seafront in Napier.

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A 350km drive to Wellington definitely called for a midday cake-stop. Would you believe we have stopped in this cake shop on our past 2 trips as well – two and six years ago! The Olde Plum Duff tearooms in Shannon.

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What seems to be a Kiwi classic – lolly cake.

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The best way to describe it is quite dense and fudgy, with big chunks of bright squishy sweets, kind of like firm marshmallows, and rolled in desiccated coconut. Yummy! I will have to look up the recipe for this when we get back.

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A lot of the bakeries also sell another classic from this region – Lamingtons, although they do originate from neighbouring Australia. I didn’t manage to try one on this trip, but maybe next time…

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The cake shop is set in the middle of a tiny little town called Shannon, half an hour or so outside Palmerston North. There are a lot of small one-street towns in NZ, and Shannon is no exception, but really very pretty nonetheless.

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And the piece de resistance – the reason for our travel to NZ, my brothers wedding in Christchurch this weekend.

The wedding was held at a lovely little venue on the outskirts, called Sharvin Lodge. How nice to be able to hold the ceremony outside!

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The wedding cake was fab and perfect for the autumn theme – how amazing are those fondant leaves.

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And the loveliest part? There was a mini cake for everyone to have there or take away with them, such a nice idea.

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So we leave New Zealand later today with some fantastic memories, next stop LA!