Recipe: Mashed Potato and Cinnamon Spudcakes.

Taterly Delicious

Taterly moreish

You read it right, Ogglers: today I’m baking with Mashed Potato.

And you know what? The results are ruddy delicious: not heavy or starchy, but firm – with a gorgeous bite.

Indeed, this is more of a textural thing – you can’t really taste the Tater.

What you will taste, however, is sweet, delicious Cinnamon by the bucketload. And it will BLOW YOUR MIND.

So then. Got some Potato? Fancy something a bit different?

Then what are you waiting for?

BAKE!

Mashed Potato and Cinnamon Spudcakes (makes approx 18)

Ingredients:

  • 260g sugar
  • 200g softened butter/margarine
  • 180g finely mashed (or puréed) potato
  • 260g self raising flour (or 260g plain flour with 2½ tsp baking powder)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • PLUS 350g of your chosen icing

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan assisted) or gas mark 4, and lay your cupcake cases out on however many baking trays you need
  2. Cream sugar, syrup, fat and potato with a wooden spoon (easier to do if the potato’s still warm, though it doesn’t really matter either way)
  3. Add the eggs and beat thoroughly
  4. Fold in the flour and cinnamon, keeping things light and airy
  5. When all the ingredients are fully incorporated, pour the mix into your cupcake cases (to about ¾ full)
  6. Lick the bowl (the batter is AWESOME) – and try not to get salmonella
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. If you prick them with a knife and it comes out clean they’re ready to come out
  8. Allow to cool on a wire rack
  9. In the meantime, prepare whatever icing you see fit (I used a simple vanilla buttercream, but would also recommend something of the cream cheese variety – such as the white chocolate frosting in my favourite Chocolate Berry Cake)
  10. Smear it all over the tops of your cupcakes (but not until they’ve cooled right down)
  11. Gorge (and then gorge some more)

Happy Hogging!

P-H x

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Review: The Thorntons Chocolate Afternoon Tea.

Thorntons Chocolate Tea

Nicey (but pricey)

Chocolate Week 2013 is almost upon us – so what better way to kick things off than by sneaking a peek at the Thorntons Chocolate Afternoon Tea?

Inspired by the flavours of several new Thorntons offerings – and on sale for a limited time – it certainly isn’t your average menu (unless your local tea room always sells Salmon and Cocoa Sandwiches).

At £33 per person, however (£41 with Champagne), it also isn’t the cheapest of ways to chow down.

So what do you get for your money?

Well, there’s a comfortable seat in the opulent Park Lane Hotel, a harpist strumming pop songs in the corner, a plate of ornate-looking savouries (filled mainly with meat and fish), plus fine Loose Leaf Tea poured from silver pots.

The main event – the Scones and handcrafted Desserts – are also extremely stylish, with Chocolate running through the whole affair.

I enjoyed gobbling up the three Scones (Plain, Chocolate, and Chocolate Chip), which were fresh and still warm, albeit quite small.

The Raspberry and Chocolate Jam went down a treat as well – though I can’t say I could taste the Choc in the Lemon and White Chocolate Curd.

The Desserts looked both immaculate and enticing. However, sharing each one between two proved to be very messy, and meant that the final mouthfuls were rather too miniature for my liking.

In general, I found myself craving more.

More of the Passion Fruit Mousse, with its solid White Chocolate flower.

More of the silky Coconut Mousse (a luxurious lovechild of Teacake and Bounty).

I especially wanted more of the Raspberry Cheesecake Bombe: the gorgeous round pink Chocolate shell, which was filled with a Raspberry froth.

But, alas, it was not to be.

Instead, at the end of the Tea, my blood sugar quota was filled with a taster of three new Thorntons Truffles – plus an edible Chocolate name tag to take home.

The verdict then?

Undoubtedly sleek, a definite treat, but, at times, far too petite.

Rated: The Greggsnut.

Greggsnuts

The Glaze Craze Continues

What? With Doughnut-Croissant hybrids sparking a feeding frenzy in New York and dampening chins all over the world, it was only a matter of time before someone this side of the Atlantic started selling their own brand.

First major business to get onboard? The omnipresent chain of budget British bakeries, Greggs.

Now, at Greggs, they’re not called Cronuts – most likely because that label has been cannily trademarked by Dominique Ansel, the man who first brought the Cronut into being.

Instead, these balls of dough and glaze are known, somewhat inelegantly, as Greggsnuts.

Their makers describe them as ‘delicious’ and ‘fluffy’, with ‘layer upon layer of soft, light pastry’.

Again, no doubt to avoid litigation, they’re specifically aligned with Yum Yums (that other fried and flaky treat) and claim to have been inspired by the ‘craze’ of Cronuts, rather than Cronuts themselves.

Yeah, right.

Like Cronuts, they are glazed and filled, with two flavours available to buy: Summer Berry and Crème, and Caramel and Pecan.

Like Cronuts, their supply has been deliberately limited: only 13 shops are stocking them – less than one per cent of the company’s 1,671 UK outlets – and these will only sell them in September.

Unlike Cronuts, however, one bite is enough to confirm that they are not a taste sensation.

Don’t get me wrong: they’re not awful. They’re just not awfully good.

While devotees of the Cronut will wax lyrical on its freshness, flakiness and chew, the Greggsnut leaves a lot to be desired.

It is not Croissanty at all – the layers are thick and heavy, and they cloy together, sticking between the teeth.

The fillings are sparse, not gooey, and dwarved by great big pockets of air. And while the Caramel adds a certain salty silkiness (never a bad thing), neither it nor the bodiless Berry Crème pack the filthy, no-holds barred punch that I’d hoped for.

Of course this is hardly surprising. Unlike the original Cronut, these aren’t gourmet products, lovingly made in a tiny batch by a top Pastry Chef and his team.

In fact, they’re more or less what you’d expect from Greggs: sugary, bulky, cheap, and more impressive in looks than taste.

So, Ogglers: if your nearest shop isn’t supplying them, don’t be blue.

There are far more delicious things in this land – and countless better bakeries than Greggs in which to buy them

Where? Controversially available at selected London stores only (until 1 October 2013). Check the Greggs website for details

How Much? A solid £1 per ‘nut

Rating?

3/10

Worth a pound? Possibly. Worth a queue? Definitely not

Rated: The Dalston Crunchie Cake.

Gird your loins, Ogglers: things are about to get RUDE

What? Quite possibly the most OBSCENE-looking treat I’ve ever laid eyes on. Sold as a Chocolate and Honeycomb Cake, it’s essentially what happens when a Crunchie Bar and Cake Mix get it on.

Namely: goo galore.

The Sponge alone was a dream come true: extra golden, extra moist, and extra tasty – not too dissimilar to Honeycomb, in fact.

It was the Icing, however, which took the whole thing to another dimension.

As far as I could tell, this comprised primarily of numerous Cadbury’s Crunchie Bars that had been melted down and mixed with some sumptuous soft Cream Cheese (occasionally lending the substance a slightly strange tang).

As if that wasn’t enough to excite me, there were even generous shards of Crunchie studded across the top.

The richness of it all was immense – and, cheese-tang aside, transported me to a state of more-or-less babbling incoherence.

By the end, I too was a sticky, wet mess.

Like I said: OBSCENE

Where? The Dalston Superstore, a trendy bar-cum-eatery on the central Hipster Highway (a.k.a. Kingsland High Street)

How Much? £3 for a takeaway slice

Rating?

9/10

I say again: OBSCENE

Recipe: Sophie’s Dahl’s Spelt Banana Bread.

Be nice to your Bowel

Remember, Ogglers: always be nice to your Bowel

As body parts go, the bowel might not be the most fashionable of the lot, but let’s face it: we’ve all got one – and it’s integral to the process of ploughing through puddings. If only for that, it’s well worth paying attention to.

See, although this blog is usually more concerned with what enters the body, this month is Bowel Cancer Awareness month. And as someone who lost a close aunt to the disease a couple of years ago, this is one cause that the Pud-Hog can’t ignore.

Maybe you’re already clued up on the subject (as the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, it may well have affected somebody you know or you care about).

But for those of you who don’t know the score, the most important thing to note is that, if caught in time, bowel cancer is generally very treatable.

So, Ogglers. If you pay attention to NOTHING else on this blog, then at least pay attention to the following list from Bowel Cancer UK:

Early warning signs for bowel cancer are

  • Bleeding from the bottom, and/or blood in your poo
  • A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

If you notice any of these things, then for crying out loud, don’t be embarrassed: GO AND TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR.

As well as keeping an eye out for changes like this, you can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer with exercise and a healthy diet.

That means cutting down on red or processed meats, eating your 5-a-day, and generally upping your fibre intake.

Thankfully, this risk-reducing doesn’t need to mean abandoning your pudding, as eating – or baking – treats made with whole grains and fibre is one of the ways you can keep things hunky-dory.

You could make your Summer Pudding with brown bread, pack your Flapjacks with oats, nuts and seeds, or substitute normal flour with one of the wholemeal or Spelt varities (like that Ginger Cake I made for my first Bakeroo).

If you’re still short of ideas, you can also check out Sharpham Park’s new website – Great British Spelt Recipes – which was launched in conjuction with Bowel Cancer UK in order to get people more clued up on bowel cancer awareness.

I’ve tried out a few of the cakes on there already, and can whole-heartedly recommend the Rhubarb Tart (like a juicy, fruity Frangipane – but better). The Spelt Bran and Raspberry Muffins are pretty darn awesome too…

My stand-out favourite so far, however, has been a recipe donated by Sophie Dahl: an extremely easy – yet beautifully textured – rendition of Spelt Banana Bread.

A version of it is listed below and is well worth having a go at. Sweet, moist, and full of fibre, your bowel and your taste buds will love it.

Spelt Banana Bread (serves 6 for a hearty breakfast or tea)

Click here for the original recipe

Banana Bread

SPELTACULAR

Ingredients:

  • 170g Wholegrain or Bakers Blend Spelt Flour
  • 75g soft butter, plus extra for greasing and serving
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed up
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease a 30 x 23-cm/12 x 1- inch bread tin
  2. Pour the mashed bananas into a big mixing bowl. Mix in the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract
  3. Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix in the flour last [as thoroughly as you can manage or the bicarb might sit in a lump]. Pour into the prepared tin
  4. Bake for 1 hour [approx – my oven did the job in 50 minutes], remove and cool, then serve in slices with a little butter. [You can also toast it for breakfast, and serve with Natural Yoghurt, Crème Fraîche, or Mascarpone]

Happy Hogging!

P-H x

With thanks to Sophie Dahl and Sharpham Park’s Great British Spelt Recipes campaign – in partnership with Bowel Cancer UK

The St Bart’s Body Parts Bake-Off.

Those of you who follow the Pud-Hog on Twitter might remember, way back in October, me mentioning a special little Cake sale here in London.

Held on the St Bart’s campus by a pop-up bakery movement called Eat Your Heart Out, it drummed up lots of web-based attention, and no wonder: it was full of medical edibles.

Lung Sponges, black with emphysema; kidneys, frosted with polycistic Icing; Cupcakes covered in STDs.

For the squeamish, no doubt it was gag-worthy.

But for pud pioneers like the Man and I, it was the chance to boldly go where no Hog had gone before…

Into the world of the edible Carbuncle!

… in to the world of the edible Carbuncle

With almost six months having passed now since the actual event, I’m aware that I’m rather behind in terms of reporting.

In my defence though, Ogglers, I was rather overwhelmed. With a whole file full of photos, and several tastings of note, my first drafts were several pages long.

My plan, you see, was to give you a thorough review; to impart my newfound knowledge on the taste of what we bought for a mere £3 a piece: a colourfully Wounded Bakewell (meh), a Macaroon Heart (crisp and creamy with buttercream innards), a fleshy pink Cupcake complete with rum-filled syringe (surprisingly dry), and a bar in the shape of a Carbuncle (Maltesers + Condensed Milk + dyed White Chocolate + Icing Sugar = waaaaay too much for even the sweetest sweet tooth).

After months of deliberation, however, I realised life’s too short for blog posts that long. And besides, you don’t buy goodies like these for the flavour; you buy them to wow your friends (and quite possibly make them feel sick).

So here you are Ogglers, without further ado: the photos you’ve all been waiting for.

Prepare to be awed and appalled, by…

THE WOUNDED BAKEWELL TART:

Bam!

Boom!

THE SKIN CAKE:

She'll have you in stitches!

She’ll have you in stitches!

THE ANATOMICALLY CORRECT HEART MACAROON:

Put THAT in your valves and smoke it!

Impossible to beat!

THE FLESH CUPCAKE:

STI Cupcake

A boost for your flesh AND your stomach!

THE LUNG CAKE:

A breath of fresh air!

A breath of fresh air!

THE ANATOMICAL WAX MODEL CAKE:

Head Tissue

Really gets under your skin!

THE POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY DISEASE CAKE:

Polycistic Kidney

How could you re-cyst!?

And last, but by no means least, what looks to me like

A BURNT LEG SPONGE CAKE:

INTO THE HOME OF DE-LEG-TABLE TREATS

De-LEG-table!

And with that, I’m all out of puns and photos.

I just hope you’re not out of sick bags…

Rated: Sweet Tooth Factory’s Boston Cream Pie.

Boston Cream Pie

Neither creamy nor Pie-like

What? This was something I’ve been waiting to have for some time, but never seen anywhere else in London town.

It was my first ever taste of Boston Cream Pie: not a Pie in the traditional sense, but a sponge with Dark Chocolate Icing, and a Vanilla Custard seam.

So was it worth the wait?

Well, while it was light and reasonably tasty, it just wasn’t the Cream-filled yum-fest I’d hoped for.

Perhaps that’s just the way with BCPs, but a Pie without Pastry seems like no kind of Pie to me…

Where? This specimen came from the Sweet Tooth Factory stall

How Much? £3.20

Rating? 5/10

Nice – but nothing special (and fairly pricey with it). Their Salted Caramel Cheesecake is a much more impressive bet…

Recipe: The Dark Chocolate, Berry & White Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake.

Putting the 'goo' in 'damn good'

Putting the ‘goo’ in ‘damn good’

I do not exaggerate, Ogglers, when I say that this is THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE I think I’ve ever had – and all thanks to my pal Mimi (she of the Cinnabon Substitute).

Adapted from a few different recipes that have been expertly fused together, it was made for me as a belated birthday present – and was extremely well received.

With a sponge not unlike a Chocolate Fudge Brownie (moist and slightly chewy at the edges), plus a filling so creamy and perfect it hurts (the berries! The cream cheese! The chocolate!) , I defy you to bake one and leave it alone.

Indeed, so bereft was I when I finished my first, I had to make me a second the very next day.

I kid you not.

Anyway, a million thanks to Mimi for curating the recipe – and for letting me share it with you lot via this blog.

Trust me, Ogglers: homemade cakes don’t get much better than this…

The Dark Chocolate, Berry & White Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake (makes a sponge big enough to feed 10 in one go – or 2 over several sittings)

Something to berry your face in

Something to berry your face in

Ingredients:

For the Dark Chocolate Sponge:

  • 125ml cold water
  • 200g broken dark chocolate (the best you can afford)
  • 200g butter
  • 1tbsp dried coffee
  • 85g self raising flour (or 85g plain with ¾ tsp baking powder)
  • 85g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g golden caster sugar (white caster sugar’s fine too, if that’s all you’ve got in your cupboard)
  • 200g brown muscovado sugar (light, preferably)
  • 25g cocoa (or drinking chocolate – though reduce the sugar content by 50g if using the latter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 75ml buttermilk (I used natural yoghurt in its absence – no probs)

For the Berry, White Chocolate & Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 150g softened butter
  • 100g white chocolate
  • A handful of berries for garnishing – if using fresh raspberries, this works out at about 20 or so. Alternatively, you can also use 3 to 4 tbsp of mixed berries (i.e. blackcurrants, blueberries, redcurrants, etc). Whatever you fancy for extra juice and tartness…

Method:

To Make the Sponge:

  1. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C (fan assisted) or Gas Mark 3
  2. Add the coffee to the cold water and stir well
  3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the buttermilk/natural yoghurt. Put aside for later
  4. Pop the dark chocolate, butter and coffee solution into a saucepan. Warm gently and on a low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to stop the bottom burning
  5. While the chocolate mixture is melting, put the flours, bicarb, sugars and cocoa together in a large bowl, using your hands to stir out the lumps (a spoon will do the same job if you’d rather not get messy)
  6. Add the egg mixture and the melted chocolate mixture to the flour mixture, then stir the whole lot until it’s smooth and runny
  7. Pour into the tin and bake for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes (until a knife comes out clean when poked through the top)
  8. Keep the cake inside the tin for a few minutes, then carefully turn it out on to a wire rack

The cake cannot be iced until it has cooled, so take a break and then get to work on the cream cheese frosting…

To Make the Filling:

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl until the whole thing is fully blended
  2. Using either a microwave or a saucepan, gently melt the white chocolate.
  3. Stir the melted chocolate into the butter and cream cheese
  4. Sift the icing sugar and beat this in with rest
  5. Try to refrain from eating the lot until the cake is cool (tempting though it might be)

To Assemble:

Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

  1. Using a long, sharp knife, carefully cut the sponge in two, then smear half of the frosting in the middle
  2. Dot this with about three-quarters of your berry rations, scattering them evenly throughout
  3. Pop the upper sponge on top, then cover it with the rest of your icing and berries, hiding any cracks that might have appeared while the sponge was baking
  4. Hey presto: bring out the cake forks!

NB: This is one of those sweet treats that improves after 24 hours or so. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to eat the lot within a few days, slice up the surplus and freeze it in airtight containers.

When you’re ready to eat, allow at least four hours for your slices to defrost (leaving them out overnight works for me…).

Happy Hogging!

P-H x

Rated: The Rhubarb and Hazelnut Tuffet.

NOT to be sat on

It’s a Tuffet, Jim – but not as we know it

What? Never tasted a Tuffet before?

That’s hardly surprising, given that Tuffet is usually a word for a low seat (of the type perched on by Little Miss Muffet).

Recently, however, Tuffet has started to mean something else; reclaimed by Jacqui of Saucy Puds, in order to name her tasty homemade creations.

These Tuffets are a lot like Muffins, but covered in baked sugar and flat on the top (all the better for sitting on, I suppose).

Made using seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients, the Tuffet I went for was flavoured with Rhubarb and Hazelnuts.

Despite its humble appearence it was truly delicious: moist with Rhubarb strands (but not bitter), and crunchy with chopped and whole Nuts.

A pleasure from start to finish, it tasted like a real Cake of the Earth: golden, light and wonderfully wholesome

Where? The Man and I saw Saucy Puds at Marylebone Farmers Market (not far from the stall with that mutant Manor House Fruit Cake). They’re there on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month

How Much? £1.75 each

Rating?

9/10

Not even the scariest spider could tear me away

Rated, Y’all: Chocolate Meringue Pie from Mammy’s Cupboard.

Chocolate Meringue Pie

The old two-fork trick: one for each hand…

What? The tallest slice of Pie I’ve ever had – with Meringue coiffed higher than Elvis’s quiff at its bounciest.

Homemade at Mammy’s Cupboard – a Natchez roadside restaurant housed inside a black woman’s skirt (!) – it’s also the first slice of Chocolate Meringue I think I’ve ever seen (though they do sell the Lemon variety there as well).

I have to say, it made for a great introduction, with a flaky, slightly salty Pastry base, a pleasingly gooey layer of Chocolate Blancmange, and a soft egg-white mountain which topped it like sweet, fluffy clouds.

Only the addition of real Chocolate – in chunks or some kind of Ganache – could have made it more desirable.

As it was, if I hadn’t already been stuffed with Grilled Cheese and Sweet Tea, I might well have gone for seconds…

Where? You’ll find Mammy’s Cupboard south of Natchez – just look for the huge red skirt

How Much? $3 per slice, without tax

Rating?

8/10

Sometimes mammy does know best