My Friday Challenge has become a bit of a Sunday Challenge. There is just something about baking, it feels more natural to bake a cake after a nice lazy sunday morning when your feeling relaxed and you have a day free from distractions. Also it feels more accepted to have a slice of cake…or two…on a weekend rather than during the week!
A slice of pretty marbled cake AKA Zebra cake
I saw this technique when browsing pinterest for cake ideas and it looks so simple yet impressive I really had to try it, I followed the link back to a great blog called My Cake School where I found a visual tutorial. The recipes I found all used instant cake mixes, which I was very tempted by, however this challenge is to help me learn to bake so I made my own cake mix.
I decided to dip into my Delia Smith “Complete Cookery Course” which I knew would have a simple sponge recipe I could adapt for this marbled technique. I used the “All in One Sponge” which was so easy to make. I’m also starting to notice that cake recipes use equal measures of flour, sugar and butter so I feel I could begin to put together my own recipe.
Ok so here is how I made the cake:
Split the cake mix in half and add melted chocolate and cocoa powder to one half
Place a scoop of the sponge mix in the tin and then a scoop of chocolate cake mix in the middle
Place another scoop of plain sponge mix on top of the chocolate. Continue this alternating the two mixes untill it is all used up and the cake has spread out to fill the tin
Mine’s not beautiful round rings but you get the idea of what you are looking for
I think my cake mix was a little too thick to allow it to smoothly begin to spread as I added each layer, I would suggest using a looser thin cake mix. Also I really liked the chocolate flavours but you could also experiment with different colours!
Marbled/ Zebra Cake
I don’t think the chocolate flavour came through massively but over all it was a light, sweet sponge. Also I preferred it with no icing, instead I added some fresh strawberries to add some moisture and fresh sweetness. So much nicer than sugary icing!
I chose this recipe because it looked so impressive with the marbled top, I wasn’t sure mine would look like the picture in the book but it did such a satisfying feeling! I jotted the recipe down on a piece of paper when I was visiting my mum in France so I don’t have a photo of Delia’s version but you can find the recipe here and you can buy her Vegetarian book here
I liked the fact that it was an “energy bar” not a flapjack, even though when I took them into work I just called them flapjacks for simplicity. Although after eating them everyone did say they tasted much healthier than a flapjack and it was obviously not filled with syrup and sugar. I made a few changes to the recipe just because (as usual) I wanted to use up some ingredients I had in the cupboard – I swapped pecans for just a bag of mixed nuts, I also swapped the apricots and raisins for dried figs and dried cranberries. I think the fruits and nuts I used tasted great so was really happy it still worked.
I was nervous about using condensed milk because I haven’t eaten it in years and I didn’t really understand how it was going to bind everything together. I bought a squeezy tube of condensed milk and it worked great, it also meant I had none left over which also suited me fine!
The recipe says it served 16 and I have to admit I was very tempted to just cut it into 8 or 10 slices because 16 slices were so small! But I sliced it into 16 in the end and I would recommend sticking to this size as the bar is quite rich and filling. It also meant I didn’t feel so guilty when eating it!
What I have learnt about chocolate:
When teamed with other flavours like dried fruit and nuts, chocolate can make the snack more indulgent and more of a treat. Chocolate also doesn’t have to be the main ingredient to take centre stage as it can be used to decorate and enhance other flavours within the recipe.
I absolutely loved the marbled effect, it was so easy to do but it looks so impressive and makes the bar look much more special. Next week I definitely want to play around with using chocolate for a visual effect as well as adding to the flavour!
This is my second risotto technique for this month and I have to say I thought it was fantastic! It is taken from the book “Vegetarian Collection” by Delia Smith, you can buy the book here and also you can view the recipe on Delia’s website here.
This technique is different to the previous recipe as for Delia’s recipe you fry the raw ingredients, then pour it into a dish and bake it in the oven. She gave quite strict timings for the baking so I used a timer and it came out perfectly. What I liked about this recipe is that there is no guessing when the risotto is done, or how it should look, you are given clear instructions and as long as you follow them you will end up with a risotto as Delia intended it to be.
The grains of rice were soft and fluffy but not mushy and the vegetables were perfectly cooked and nestled in amongst the rice.
I also loved the flavours of the vegetables in there – I think a risotto needs big chunks of veg to provide other flavours and textures. I’m really struggling to think of my own flavour combination because there are classics you just shouldn’t mess with! We will see, I know I’ll come up with something eventually!
What I learnt about Risotto:
Well the main thing I learnt here is that it can be baked in the oven! This is a relief as not sure I want a whole month of standing and stirring for an hour. I also learnt that you don’t need to add lots of things like cream and cheese to make an indulgent risotto, although those ingredients give it a more silky texture, you can still create something special but without all the calories!