Bran Loaf

This recipe for Bran Loaf comes from my gran’s recipe book, but to me it’s synonymous with my mum because she used to make it regularly when I was a kid. It’s a ridiculously easy recipe to put together – the recipe is done by volume, and requires equal parts of each ingredient (except salt). Using 1 cup, or 250ml, of each gives a decent sized loaf.

  • 250ml self raising flour
  • 250ml caster sugar
  • 250ml dried fruit (e.g. sultanas)
  • 250ml All Bran breakfast cereal
  • 250ml milk
  • A pinch of salt

First up, put the All Bran, milk, sugar and fruit together in a big bowl and give it a stir. Leave this for at least 2 – 3 hours.

Next, stir in the flour and salt until you have an even mixture. Pour it into a loaf tin and bake in the oven. My gran’s recipe calls for a “moderate” oven for 1hr 15mins. We went with 180C fan oven and it took about 45 minutes.

You must eat this sliced and smeared with butter. It’s fabulous.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Cake

Well, this is a strange one. The recipe comes from John Whaite’s Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients, and whilst it looks like a run of the mill chocolate cake, one of these five ingredients is definitely not like the others. Yes folks, this cake really does include a tin of condensed tomato soup.

It would be fair to say I was very suspicious when making this, and the smell of tomatoes whilst making the mixture was much stronger than I had imagined – although I did use a bit too much soup (the tin we bought was bigger than the quantity required and I only spotted just before the last drops went in!). Once the cake batter is made it goes into two sandwich tins and bakes in the oven for about half an hour – and out comes chocolate cake! Quite an attractive looking one, too.

Meanwhile you make some chocolate icing/ganache from a mixture of water, cocoa, butter and muscovado sugar. I found that the quantities in the recipe produced about 25% more than I needed. However, I did find icing the cake to be quite tricky because both my sponges were quite domed, and when I assembled the cake the top sponge broke up a little bit – the icing ended up being more of a glue to hold the whole thing together.

The resulting cake is really nice, really rich and really fudgey. I’m not sure whether that’s due to the tomato soup, or if it’s the massive (and I do mean massive) quantities of sugar and cocoa used in the cake. Are they there in their own right, or to mask the flavour of tomatoes? I’ve no idea, but the cake will be demolished by us two I can assure you of that.

Boston Cream Pie

When we first set up this website, we used a photo of a Boston Cream Pie I had made as the profile picture – it was something I made a long time ago and posted on my personal Instagram account.

Since it was my birthday recently, I decided to revisit the recipe as my birthday cake. And I decided to make two cakes – one for my workplace and one for the Two Hungry Boys.

This recipe comes from How To Be A Domestic Goddess and features three distinct stages – first you make a batch of Nigella’s Victoria Sponge mixture, then some creme anglais to place between the two sponges, and finally some chocolate ganache to top it.

The resulting cake is amazing – light sponge, sweet custard and a thick chocolatey topping. Very rich and very filling, and it vanished within minutes when I took it to work!

Ginger Cake

It’s been a while since we did any baking – the last real baking was Mark’s spectacular Christmas cake. Since Christmas we’ve been working our way through that cake and a mountain of other treats which seemed to accumulate in our cupboards over the festive season. They’re all gone now though, so I turned to my new copy of The Kitchen Diaries and in the January chapter there is a recipe for ginger cake.

It’s a pretty simple recipe – mostly because there’s no heavy beating of butter required. Dry ingredients get mixed in a bowl whilst the butter and various sugars and syrups are melted together in a pan to produce a gingery kind of toffee. You then mix the two together and add eggs and milk before sticking in the oven. Nigel says you can have this one warm, but if you’re having it cold it’s best to leave for a day to “mature”.

I’m not qualified to judge this one – Mark is the ginger cake superfan, and he gives it a thumbs up so it must be good!

Chocolate and Walnut Layer Cake

This week’s bake comes from a book we don’t use very often, Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake. It’s described as a chocoholic’s dream, and it certainly is… but it was a pain to make.

The cake is made first and isn’t too complicated, but after it’s baked you then need to leave it to cool before slicing into three layers. Mine could have done with rising a bit more which made the slicing a bit precarious.

You then make the icing and use it to ‘glue’ the layers back together before topping with some more icing. Given that I was making a stew and cobbler topping at the same time (see previous post!) I’d had enough at this point and so I skipped the final steps of grating chocolate over and dusting with icing sugar.

End result is very nice, but very very rich. We actually nearly made ourselves sick by cutting thick slices and then trying to finish them – the brandy in the icing doesn’t help!

Stem Ginger Cake

It’s Mark’s birthday this week so I asked him what sort of cake he’d like me to make. He immediately said this one which comes from Delia Smith’s book, Delia’s Cakes.

Quite a lot of ingredients go into this one, but it’s an all in one method so it’s really easy to make. Actually, the only bit which caused me problems was the icing – I made mine a bit too runny so it didn’t look to good on top and had a bit of a tendency to run down and the under the cake.

I had a bit of an incident getting it into the tin once finished. The icing had run underneath and glued the cake to the plate, so it broke up quite a bit when I was moving it. But I cunningly hid the damage and nobody was any the wiser. The birthday boy enjoyed his slice so all is good!