Chocolate Fudge Cake

T wanted to bake.

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He wanted to bake a cake.

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He wanted to bake a chocolate cake.

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He wanted to bake a chocolate fudge cake.

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T likes his cake …

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… (and his diggers).

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Chocolate Fudge Cake (adapted from Leiths Baking Bible)

4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
4 oz light muscovado sugar
1 oz molasses
4 eggs
6 oz self-raising flour
2 oz cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
a pinch salt
6 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing
8 oz plain chocolate
8 oz creme fraiche
1 tbsp caster sugar

Chocolate drops to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line two 8″ round sandwich tins with baking parchment.

Cream the butter and sugars.

Lightly beat the eggs, then beat in gradually to the creamed mixture.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Fold into the creamed mixture alternately with the creme fraiche.

Stir in the vanilla.

Divide the batter between the two tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake tops are springy.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 mins before turning out and cooling completely.

Make the icing – melt the chocolate in a bowl, either over a pan of hot water or in the microwave. Stir in the creme fraiche and sugar. Use liberally to sandwich and ice the cake.

Decorate with the chocolate drops.

Yum.

The Wooden Spoon Adventures

Let’s all sing …

Happy 5th Blogiversary to A Merrier World,
Happy 5th Blogiversary …

Hmmm. Maybe not. It doesn’t quite scan, does it?

But it really is my blog’s 5th birthday (despite the fact that the Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake above has seven candles. I was never very good with numbers).

Five years ago today, I clicked ‘publish’ for the first time and held my breath as my chocolate brownie tentatively announced my new, official status of ‘food blogger.’ Since that day, I have discovered friendships among an online crowd of passionate food bloggers and bakers, I have entertained Rose Levy Beranbaum and her assistant, Woody Woolston at home and abroad, and even conjured up a surprise at Dart’s Farm for two of my most loyal readers over the years, Melinda and Jeannette. My Great Pumpkin Cake seems to have spread far and wide across the internet whilst my Rainbow Cake and Unicorns post has inspired other Mums looking for party ideas for their young children. And WordPress tells me that this is my 150th post (gosh, how did that happen? A nice round, significant number like that? 😉 )

To celebrate this milestone (and five years is not so very short a time in terms of internet history), I’m sending a wooden spoon off into the big wide world to stir up some trouble.

Here’s the plan …

A few weeks ago, I snail-mailed a wooden spoon to one of my first-ever blog readers, Melinda. She had very generously agreed to come out of blogging retirement to write a post on her own blog about the adventures this wooden spoon would have with her when she used it to bake a tasty, local treat. She had also agreed to hound down, pester, cajole or bribe another willing food blogger to accept this wooden spoon afterwards and to take it on a further baking spree.

True to her word (for which I will be forever grateful), Melinda has introduced my wooden spoon to the delights of a Lemon Blueberry Buckle, nostalgically reminiscent of her roots in Oregon. She has also coined a new word – spoonee. Thank you, Melinda, for being such a wonderful first spoonee!  Next stop, Portland …

And so the wooden spoon’s adventures will hopefully continue, passing from baker to baker around the globe and whipping up a storm of regional specialities.

If all goes well, I will chart the Wooden Spoon’s Adventures here on A Merrier World by building up a page of links to all the delicious recipes the spoon has met on its culinary travels.

As for the lavishly-named, seven-candled Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake … here’s the recipe as a special birthday present from me to A Merrier World and its readers 🙂 .

Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake

Cookie Base
3 oz butter
2 oz caster sugar
2 1/2 oz light muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium egg
5 oz plain flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 oz chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl.

Gradually beat in the vanilla and egg.

Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie dough in the base of a 9″ springform pan. Put in the fridge while making the brownie batter.

Brownie
3 oz plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
5 1/2 oz plain chocolate
4 oz butter
1/4 tsp coffee granules
5 oz caster sugar
2 oz light muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir in the coffee granules.

Turn off the heat and whisk in the caster and muscovado sugars until completely combined.

Take the bowl off the pan of hot water and whisk in 1 egg, the egg yolk and vanilla.

Whisk in the second egg, but be careful not to overbeat at this stage.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the top and fold in with a spatula.

Pour the brownie batter over the chilled cookie base.

Bake for 25 minutes until the brownie is just setting. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Squishy Lemon Squares

Name this common kitchen appliance …

Yep, that’s right. It’s our fridge.

T sat down at the kitchen table yesterday evening and drew a garden full of beautiful flowers. Or ‘flauers’ as he first started to spell it (except you can’t see that because he hid it under the telephone-box magnet). Perhaps he intended his flowers to be tasty treats for his dinosaur. Looking at his picture again though, perhaps he meant the flowers to catch the T-Rex. You can never be too sure how his mind works.

It’s a shame that the weather isn’t quite as summer-conscious as T apparently is right now. Almost a week into July and we’ve seen little but rainclouds and puddles. And T is missing school today because of a winter-like cough. He’s asleep at the moment, curled up in bed and snuggling into his soft toy frogs (one big, one small).

The squishy lemon squares that I baked this morning would have been perfect for a scorching, sunblazing summer afternoon. As it is, they’ll be just right for a small, sleepy-headed boy when I have to bundle him into the car in an hour or so to collect his sisters from school.

Perhaps the weather will take the hint.

Squishy Lemon Squares (or Rectangles, depending on how you cut them)

4 oz plain flour
7 oz caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 1/2 oz butter, room temperature
3 medium eggs (5 oz without shells)
zest of 2 lemons
3 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and baseline a 7″x11″ baking tray.

Beat the flour, sugar, salt and butter together in a big bowl until smooth.

Crack the eggs into a jug and beat in the lemon zest and juice.

Add the lemony eggs gradually to the floury butter mixture, beating to incorporate after each addition. Continue beating at medium speed until the batter is smooth and creamy.

Scrape into the prepared baking tray and smooth the top evenly.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes until golden and risen. Don’t overbake.

Leave to cool in the baking tray, then cut into squares (or rectangles – but Squishy Lemon Rectangles doesn’t sound as poetic as Squishy Lemon Squares, so call them whatever you wish).

Another Slice of Rainbow

A long, long time ago when M was only four, I baked a rainbow cake for her birthday. Even though she is now all growed up and turned a humongous seven years old yesterday, she still remembers her last slice of rainbow.

“I have to take a cake into school for my birthday on Wednesday,” she told me as we walked in the shade of the Roman city walls on Monday afternoon.

“And it has to be a rainbow cake.”

Sometimes, it’s best not to question dreams too closely …

Chocolate Covered Brownie Bites

June is a big birthday month in our family. First, there’s my Nan’s birthday on the 13th. She was 95 years old yesterday. Then, there’s my Mum’s birthday today. I won’t risk telling you how old she is, but it’s another ‘something-5’ milestone this year. She says she’s 21-and-a-bit, so let’s just go with that for the sake of family harmony.

Next week on the 20th, we’ll be celebrating M’s 7th birthday. I say ‘we’, but the truth is that M is busying herself with the job of celebrating her birthday already and has become an excitable bundle of cheeky high spirits in anticipation of the day itself.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also have to fit in a Father’s day celebration for my Dad (aka Grandpa) and O (aka Dad) at the weekend. Our kitchen table inevitably begins to resemble something from Santa’s workshop at about this point in the proceedings – wrapping paper, sellotape, scissors, card, colouring pencils …

Now that T has learned to write his name neatly and with all the letters facing the right direction (most of the time), there’s an even ‘bitterer’ fight over who addresses each envelope and signs their name first on each birthday card. Naturally, the winner gets the best spot right in the middle where their name is instantly noticed and appreciated by the recipient, whilst the loser’s name is relegated to a tiny leftover bit of space in the bottom corner. O and I are usually the losers.

Birthdays are also synonymous with baking in our family. My children feverishly discuss grand designs for their own birthday cakes (I’ve hidden my Debbie Brown book of so-called easy party cakes to avoid overstimulating them during this risky process) and we all get together in the kitchen to cook up some treats as gifts for Granny and Nan. This year, I decided to try out something that I’ve been considering baking for a while – namely, chocolate covered brownie bites.

They’re very simple. Just bake a batch of your favourite chocolate brownies (minus any nuts or other gubbins you usually throw in), let them cool and then crumble them all up into little pieces. Children are good at doing this.

Next, scoop up a bunch of the crumbs, pinch them together and roll them into a ball between the palms of your hands. Children are good at doing this, too. Adults who have many years’ experience of gathering up scratty offcuts of playdough will probably also be at an advantage.

Finally, melt some of your favourite dark chocolate in a bowl. Use a couple of forks to dip each ball into the bowl and cover it entirely with the melted chocolate. Place the chocolate-covered brownie bites on a tray lined with baking parchment until the chocolate hardens. All the messy bits of chocolate can be cut away from the bites with a sharp knife once the chocolate has set.

I took a box of these brownie bites for my Mum to our tap dancing class this morning (don’t laugh – at the idea of me tap dancing, I mean) and they didn’t hang around for very long. I also hid a slice of uncrumbled brownie in a small tin for my Mum to enjoy on her own later …