White chocolate and raspberry melting cake

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This cake was meant to be an entry for a John Whaite Book Club competition (and also dessert for a gathering with some of my teacher friends) but as you will discover if you read on, it ended up in no fit state to be photographed…

There were many lessons I learnt when making this cake…
1) Always use the correct size cake tins – if it says 20cm it means 20cm! Sadly I don’t own any 20cm tins. I own 18.5cm tins and 23cm tins. I opted for the 23cm tins thinking this would be better but sadly not! I ended up with large almost flat sponges.
2) Check your self-raising flour is in date Mine was best before June which I think may have contributed towards my flat sponges.
3) If it says the ganache filling will take a long time to thicken it means it will take a long time to thicken.
4) If your judgement is telling you not to try to assemble the cake don’t do it! I thought about taking the sponges and ganache separately and assembling it when needed but stupidly thought it would be ok. It wasn’t – the ganache wasn’t thick enough and spilled out everywhere. The cake started to slip and slide around in my car and due to some unexpected breaking ended up in pieces. It was essentially a cake jigsaw puzzle that I had to arrange into something resembling a cake when I arrived at my friends house. Luckily I have some lovely friends who said it still looked delicious :-)

I wasn’t going to post this but actually it was a big hit and when it was sliced into pieces it didn’t actually look too bad (if you looked at it in a creative way!) and a blog post was requested by my friends. Sadly I only had my phone with me so the pictures of the end result aren’t great. If you are brave enough to attempt this (and not as silly as me and don’t make the same mistakes I did) you can find the recipe here on John Whaite’s Facebook page.
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Double Chocolate Shortbreads

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Now these are supposedly meant to be shortbreads…however I would disagree. The texture is more of a crumbly biscuit rather than a buttery, moreish shortbread. They are perfectly tasty (although perhaps lacking in depth of flavour) and the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee while catching up with a friend (as I discovered today when I managed to scoff three of them – oops!) but do not embark upon making them thinking that you will create traditional shortbread.

I made these as I was visiting one of my friends who is allergic to egg – shortbread seemed to be the perfect option. I considered lemon, chocolate chip and espresso choc chip but found this BBC Good Food recipe which seemed easy enough to whip up quickly this morning. I managed to make 20 biscuits from the mixture.
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Chocolate brownie meringue cake

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Today was a special day. You might have seen ‘The Big Reunion’ on the TV (lots of pop bands from the late nineties and early noughties reuniting) – well today was the proper big reunion. It is ten years this summer since I and my very special friends graduated from university. In honour of this special occasion we had a get together to reminisce, laugh over photos (what were we wearing?!?) and partake in a game of petanque. I of course offered to make dessert. I’d had my eye on this recipe for a while and recently had a similar cake at ‘The Tenth Hole Tea Rooms’ in Southsea (they are legendary in Hampshire for their amazing cakes!) so decided now was the time. I am now a little bit obsessed with the idea of making meringue cakes and have my eye on a Nigella Lawson lemon meringue cake, a BBC Good Food blackberry and almond meringue cake and a mocha meringue cake I have found on a blog. Oh the possibilities!

As you will see from the photos I have yet again failed in my attempts to make a meringue that does not crack! I am obviously just doomed. However despite appearances the cake went down well. It is a Miranda Gore-Brown recipe from the Great British Bake Off. You can find it on lots of different websites but I used the version from the BBC website that you can find here. It is very tricky to slice and serve and does not look pretty but makes up for it in taste. The combination of meringue and brownie works well and the raspberry cream adds some freshness. There was a debate over the hazelnuts in the meringue but the end decision was that they add texture. The recipe is meant to use two 23cm sandwich tins which I don’t possess so I used springform tins instead which still works.
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Blackberry and apple crumble muffins

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The end of summer is fast approaching and autumn is in sight. The days are getting shorter, the summer holidays are nearly over (to the delight of parents and the despair of teachers) and blackberries are appearing. I spent Sunday afternoon wondering around the local area picking blackberries to use in my latest baking adventure. After trawling the Internet I found many options: blackberry and almond meringue cakeblackberry sourdough sconesblackberry and apple muffins and even bramble marshmallows. In the end I opted for a recipe from the Delicious Magazine website for blackberry and apple crumble muffins which you can find here.

The recipe works well and produces muffins that are moist. I particularly like the bursts of bright purple created by the blackberries. If I was to make these again I would cut the chunks of apple a little smaller and possibly use a dessert apple instead to add a little more sweetness.

The recipe makes 12 muffins and you will need a 12-hole muffin tin lined with paper cases.
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Chocolate Chip Cookies – Take Two

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You may be wondering why I am writing about chocolate chip cookies again? Well, I am someone who likes to try different recipes even if I have found one that already works perfectly well. Today I decided to try Jo Wheatley’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies that feature in her ‘A Passion for Baking Book’. They are different to the Hummingbird Bakery ones I have made recently – although this isn’t a bad thing. I can’t describe exactly how they are different other than I think they have a more biscuity texture rather than a cookie (although this may be down to me getting the sugar quantities horrifically wrong and if I’m being really truthful probably baking them for a couple of minutes too much). They will be winging their way to our friends Emma and John, who have just become parents for the first time to the gorgeous Leo. I thought they might need some sugar and chocolate!

I managed to make 14 cookies (although as you will read later this is probably because I mistakenly upped the amount of demerara sugar by nearly double the amount – oops!)
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Honeycomb Crunchies

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I found the recipe for these in a Good Food magazine I was reading at my mother-in-laws house last week during a few days holiday back home in Devon. I liked the look of them and found the recipe on line on the BBC website which you can find here (it’s a Mary Berry one from the Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief). I’ve never made honeycomb before and was a little apprehensive to say the least. I didn’t fancy ruining any of our saucepans! It was actually surprisingly easy especially as I received a sugar thermometer in the post yesterday as a birthday present (thanks Dot and Martin!) which would help with getting the mixture to the right temperature. They have a crunchy texture and my husband has just given them his seal of approval so I would definitely recommend.
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You want a pizza this?

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As I’ve said before I’m not really a savoury baker. Dough scares me! However, with time on my hands during the holidays it allows me to try out some different recipes. We enjoy pizza in the Little Birdie household so I decided to try making a pizza from scratch for dinner.

I used a Lorraine Pascale recipe for the dough which you can find on the BBC website here. I was pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t as thin and crispy as a normal pizza but this was probably down to me not rolling it out thin enough. I’ve also read that a pizza stone helps create a more authentic pizza but sadly we don’t own one so maybe I will have to investigate.
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