December 25, 2011

'Tis the Season

Oooohhhh Happy Holidays! I can not believe Christmas has snuck up so very fast this year - probably thanks to the wonderfully unseasonable weather we have been having in London - up until this week that is!

So I thought since people are looking at the blog, that I will add some festive pix and my favourite blog links to help decorate different Christmasy treats!

Have a very Merry Christmas!!
Christmas Snowmen I made last year - See the Pink Whisk for Ruth's instructions on how to make! 
(and for so very many more wonderful Xmas delights!
 (She does a cracking 12 days of Xmas these last two years!)
Christmas Victoria Sponge
Chocolate Pralines
Cookie Christmas Tree - scrubby
Red Berry Christmas Yule Log
 Chocolate Tuffles
 Chocolate Chestnut Yule Log
My mum's xmas shortbread also need special mention - YUM
Christmas Bauble Cupcakes

More Christmas vouchers
Christmas Macaroons

*If you would like recipes leave a comment and I will pull together for this year - and file for next!

Funky Sites and Ideas for decorating Cakes & Cupcakes which I hope to try soon soon (yes this year still - who's coming to eat!?!

December 19, 2011

Chicken Paprika

If you haven't seen/heard of the Hairy Bikers you are missing out. Love em. Two northern lads who love their motorbikes as well as their cooking and baking. A great laugh - ever see them on Saturday's kitchen - I fell off the couch laughing at one of their omelette  challenges! Anyway...

I came across Chicken Paprika from them - a hungarian dish which I tweaked to my own taste. A lovely comforting dish for a cool night. I love to serve in a hollowed out loaf of bread (similar to a bunny chow in South Africa - except it's not a curry but you get the hint.. if you had one that is) mmmm...

Ingredients (this serves 2 plus leftovers for lunch)
2 chicken breasts (skin on makes nicer but off is better for you they say!) plus 2 chicken thighs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic sliced
1 large red pepper chopped
1 tin chopped tomatos
250ml chicken stock
corriander(cilantro) but if you are one not keen on it - original recipe calls for flat leaf parsley
creme freche (or sour cream)
1-2tbsp of each hot paprika, sweet paprika, 1 tspchilli powder (if you want)
1 tbsp flour

Place olive oil in pan on med heat to warm. Season chicken with salt and then to pan. Slowly allow to brown all over and then add the butter (don't let it burn). 2-3minutes or until nice and tasty looking. Remove chicken pieces and set aside - you are going to add these back in so don't worry too much that the are not yet cooked.

To the same pan on a low heat, add the onion and garlic to slowly sweat (about 5min). You want them nice and soft. Add both sweet & hot paprikas, chilli powder if using and flour. Stir to combine still on the low heat - you want to ensure the flour is cooked through to remove the pasty flour taste but be careful not to burn.

Slowly add the stock bit by bit to allow the sauce to stay quite thick. If you add all at once it takes longer to thicken up and you then might be tempted to add more flour which in turn will make it taste floury.... you don't want that. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan with the stock  (if you need to add more stock or if you have no stock left a bit more water - do so now if it looks too dry) I like to get the chicken almost covered  but that is as I love the sauce so very much.

Add about 2tbsp of the chopped coriander (or parsley if using) and bring to boil. Add the red pepper and tomatoes and reduce heat and let simmer for an hour (you can serve nearly straight away if you want it quick (just make sure chicken is completely cooked through) but the flavours just get better with time so if you have it... use it - just be careful that the chicken doesn't dry out.

Remove from heat, remove chicken pieces and stir in creme freche or sour cream to suit your tastebuds (I sometimes cover the chicken with some of the sauce before adding the cream and then to the other part of sauce add the cream to give it the best of spicy and cool).

Top with more coriander or parsley

Serve with or in bread or with rice or with fresh baby/garden potatoes. Yum

Baked Chocolate Mousse (aka flourless chocolate cake)

The first time i ever had this was about 10 years ago at a dinner party at a friend of ours - he impressed me by his baking skills and I had to steal the recipe. It soon became one of my favourite things to bake for birthdays, office colleagues and my own dinner parties.

The dark chocolate in it goes so well with the mascarpone and fruit compote / jam or fresh fruit. Sometimes I use double cream and fruit or jam instead of the mascarpone. The best combo though has to be passionfruit as the sharpness goes so well with the sweetness of the cheese and the dark chocolate. Oh yum!

Now although the name says it is a mousse, it is more like a cake - just really lovely and gooey inside (even more than a chewy brownie) I wouldn't suggest using the recipe to make cupcakes with though... Very rich but oh so very very good!

As I haven't made in a while I don't have pix but that is just another reason to make it this week! Horray!

Baked Chocolate Mousse with Passionfruit  (by James Martin)

For the Cake/Baked Mousse
300g dark chocolate (65% +)
150g unsalted butter
55g caster sugar
6large eggs (separated)

For the passionfruit mousse
255g mascarpone  (if you can't find then use 350ml double/whipping cream total & skip next ingredient)
55g double cream
3 tbsp icing sugar (or more to suit your sweet tooth) and depends on the type of fruit used
3 passion fruit (pulp of each)  or strawberry/raspberry/cherry jam (amount depends on your tastebuds - jam may only need 2tbsp or so) - whatever takes your fancy - you might just want whipped cream and fresh strawberries!

This is such a cinch to make - really
Preheat oven to 180C/350F and prepare a 20cm spring bottomed cake tin (with removable base)

Melt your chocolate in a ban marie or in a bowl over a pot of simmering water (make sure no water or steam gets into your chocolate). Once just melted take off heat - you don't want to overheat. Let cool down.

In a clean bowl, whisk your egg whites to stiff peaks (these will add the fluffiness to your cake) so get them good and whisked

In a separate bowl (you can use the same beaters without washing them after whisking the egg whites - less washing up always good!) whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until a very pale colour - they will start to thicken up and will look almost like cream (about 3-5minutes)

Take a bit of the egg yolk mixture (a tbsp will do) and mix into the melted chocolate. This will help to take down the temperature. Add all of the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture and mix well. Then carefully fold in the egg whites - ensure that you get all of the egg whites incorporated without taking out the air you put into them when whisking.

Pour into a cake tin and bake for about 20min. It will wobble a little bit when you take it out of the oven, that's ok - just watch that the top doesn't burn. If it wobbles too much leave in for a couple minutes longer.

Let cool completely within the tin. Remove and dust with icing sugar and or cocoa powder.

To make the Fruit mousse
Use a hand mixer or just a wooden spoon to beat all of the ingredients together until firm. Keep in fridge until ready. Serve on the side.
(if not using mascapone, whip the cream until just peaked (don't over whip or the texture will not be so nice). Then stir in fruit/jam to a quantity that suits your tastebuds.


December 17, 2011

A scrummy Boxing Day Ham - the smell of Christmas

Last year (2011) I did my first Christmas/Boxing Day/New Year Cooked Ham. I found a recipe by Richard Corrigan which was absolutely amazing so will carry on my own tradition this year again. And again this year 2016!

Today again we trooped up to Broadway Market and found David Wilkinson from Downland Produce in Wiltshire and found an amazing ham to do the trick.

So here is Richard's recipe tweaked a bit which I share with you (pix to come next week!)

This ham is poached in white WINE which makes it extra yummy (and my other half is quite a piccalilli maker too which goes so well with this - especially made a month before)

*Note - do make sure you prepare before Xmas Eve as sometimes it is difficult finding the simplest of ingredients over the holiday season (I couldn't find cloves last year ANYWHERE ... luckily we raided my mother-in-laws pantry on Xmas day!))
*Note - if you buy already cured you may want to soak in a large pot of water for 1-1/2days before you cook it (See.... need to really prepare) to remove excess salt (change water 2-3 times) *Downland Produce gammon only needs to be rinsed not soaked
*Note - make the piccalilli a month before (longer for better flavour) in saying that we ate it the day of or day after it was made and it was good too  however VERY sharp from vinegar- but better a few months later- it lasted us until summer!
Timings for a Boxing Day Ham
June - make piccalilli 
22Dec - buy your ingredients
23Dec (before going out for drinks) - soak gammon in pot of clean cold water
24Dec (before going to bed or going out whichever is more appropriate!) - change water 
25Dec - forget about the ham as you will have far too much turkey or nut roast and glasses of port!)
26Dec - It will take between 3-4hours to prepare, cook, rest and bake so plan ahead if you are serving for a meal (A 3kg joint will feed 15people and take 3hrs to cook)
Cooking Time (i.e 2hr) + 30min resting time + 20min baking  = start at least 3hrs before you want to eat

What you will need: 

1 boneless gammon (size depending on what you want and how long you want to eat it!)
* all of the ingredients below will suit any size of ham)
2 onions
6 stalks of celery (not my fav)
3 leeks cut into large pieces
1 head garlic
2 star anise
1tsp cardamom pods crushed
1/2tsp black peppercorns
750ml bottle of white wine

I made a maple glaze (glaze to suit your tastebuds - this one isn't too sweet)
To Finish:
200ml Maple Syrup (Canadian of course!)
2tbsp coarse/whole grain mustard
2tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2tbsp soy sauce

Other things you will need:
Greeseproof/baking paper
a large Pot with tight fitting lid
Kitchen foil
Piccalilli, bread, mustard

Day of Cooking
Put all the veg  & spices in a pot, place the gammon on top and pour in that bottle of wine. Fold a sheet of greaseproof/baking paper in half and press on and around the joint.

Now you don't want any of that wine to escape the pot so cover the top of the pan tightly with a double layer of foil (without ripping) - I used kitchen twine to secure it to the pot that much tighter... and then carefully secure with the tight fitting lid being careful not to rip foil.

Place on Med-High heat on hob/stove until steaming. Cook 25min per 500g. You can either keep cooking it on the hob or put it in the oven (preheated 180C/160Cfan) If cooking in the oven you may need an extra 5min/500g added to the cooking time.

When cooking time is up, remove from the heat and set aside (still covered) for at least 20-30min to let the ham soak in the liquor (it is so tempting to check it out but don't - the wait is worth it!)

Once rested (the ham and you too), take ham out of pot and take off the rind *it should pull off quite easily.

Finish with your glaze then put in oven at 200C/180Cfan for 10-20min to warm through but also get that glaze a shining!

Eat hot or cold -- as a snack, as lunch, as a main - you can do it all as it lasts at least a week in the fridge after cooking!

Happy Holidays

December 13, 2011

'Tis the Season

Oooohhhh Happy Holidays! I can not believe Christmas has snuck up so very fast this year - probably thanks to the wonderfully unseasonable weather we have been having in London - up until this week that is!

So I thought since people are looking at the blog, that I will add some festive pix and my favourite blog links to help decorate different Christmasy treats!

Have a very Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Snowmen I made last year - See the Pink Whisk for Ruth's instructions on how to make!
(and for so very many more wonderful Xmas delights!
 (She does a cracking 12 days of Xmas these last two years!)
Christmas Victoria Sponge

Chocolate Pralines

Cookie Christmas Tree - scrummy

Red Berry Christmas Yule Log

This is Eric Lanlard's Chocolate Chestnut Yule Log -
We watched him make this very one at the Taste of Christmas
last week (so his cake not mine) but will make.... yes I will!

Christmas Gingerbread & Toffee cupcakes

*If you would like recipes leave a comment and I will pull together for this year - and file for next!

Funky Sites and Ideas for decorating Cakes & Cupcakes which I hope to try soon soon (yes this year still - who's coming to eat!?!

Oh and some lovely Christmas Meal ideas:

December 04, 2011

A day out at Little Venice Cake Company

I was so very very lucky and honoured to be invited to the Little Venice Cake Company Christmas Open House day on Friday. My wonderful friend and I went along for a glimpse into the studio and life of Mich Turner and wow - it was wonderful. Absolutely scrummy cakes  and biscuits to try, bubbly to be had and Mich introduced me to her brand new range of bakeware (of which I had to buy a couple of treats of course!)
Meeting Mich
My Birthday presents to myself!

I stocked up on her Lustre range (Pearl, Gold and Bronze) which came in handy for my cake competition entry this weekend at the Taste of Christmas It is wonderfully glittery and it appears to dance on the cake as it goes on which looked so very cute on the little bitty gingerbread men!
Bronze on Gingerbread men
Snowflakes in each lustre
My Competition Entry (I was shortlisted but didn't place - it did get a spot on the front table with the winning cakes though!)

And I started to cry (yes cry) when I finished my cake this morning for the competition - the tears were a mixture of relief for finishing it but also because I was so happy it turned out so lovely (well I thought so anyway) The top of my sponge went on an absolute treat  (even with my shaking hands) and credit goes to the funky perspex board I got from LVCC as well and maybe because it (yes the cake) was so afraid that if it didn't work I would scream!

the cake saving board

Piping Tip
I can't wait to try out the big cupcake piping tips as well ( they worked for my sponge but, well, cupcakes are fun to show off aren't they now!)

Oh... and for dessert for the last few nights we have been polishing off (no not the 6 sponge cakes I have made in 4 days) but Mich's Triple Layer Chocolate Truffle Cake she gave us on our visit - Heaven!
I highly recommend this equipment (and you can buy at - I already have my Christmas Wish List sorted! and I can't wait for the cake ingredients to show up in Sainsbury's too!

Other lovely LVCC links:

  • Video Links - How To.. lustre a gold crown; make a sugar paste crown; cover a cake with ready to roll icing; cover a cake with ready to roll marzipan; and perfect for Xmas: Penguin Vanilla Sponge Christmas Pudding
  • Join the Cake Club to get some wonderful recipes (I made the heavenly Truffle Cake and oh my...... heavenly!!!)

December 01, 2011

What a week for baking

Have had a string of luck this week in terms of baking things... (including cakes working out!)

Baking Mad had a Facebook competition asking for our favourite taste of christmas and now I get to go to the Taste Of Christmas this weekend with my lovely friend Ros!
My favourite taste of Christmas is my mum's melting shortbread cookies baked with pecans or chocolate or fruit topping - melt in your mouth deliciousness. So happy to get them sent over from canada each year - yum yum. Oh dear - think i need to go make some now :)

Taste of Christmas are running a new event this weekend with the Best In Show Baking competition. They asked for a description (not even a pix!) of a cake that we could bake.
My idea was a Christmas Twisted Victoria Sponge (filled with lemoncello and lemon curd and berries) A Christmas outside and the happiness of summer inside.
I was shortlisted and now have to bring a cake to the show and have it judged by Eric Lanlard! (I have made some of his cupcakes in the past and they were scrummy but now........for him.....AHHHH!) I have been trying and trying and testing and changing a cake each week - need to do more now!

Little Venice Cake Company is having an Open House this week and I am lucky enough to be on the guest list - and Nuala is coming with me to have cake and champaign and hopefully we meet Mich Turner too while buying some lovely cake decorating goodies!

Stylist magazine currently have an online photo competition for cake creations which I thought I would enter and share my entries here with you. The judges are going to select 20 from the hundreds of entries for the public then to select a winner and what amazing entries there is. I didn't get shortlisted as there was such a high standard way beyond then! :) Here are the top two to vote on
 and  Have a look at this site  for amazing cupcake ideas!

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes                       Flower Cupcakes         

 Lemon Meringue Cupcakes               Macarons

Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte        Summer Meringues   

 Truffle Cakes                                           Twisted Victoria Sponge

and there was one more but will talk about it another time..... maybe :)

November 29, 2011

Edd's Praline

Since our trip to Belgium last month I can't get enough chocolate - oh wait, I have never been able to get enough chocolate but.... this has spurred me into making my own. A Couture Chocolate book for my birthday, chocolate moulds on the ready and ideas in my head.....

And along comes Edd - (winner of first Great British Bakeoff series) and he is making my ideal chocolates. Salted Caramel and Praline.

So to start off here is his Praline recipe (which he made home made nuttella from - just add praline to melted chocolate mmmm)

From Edd's Facebook page today
To make the paste you need to make a batch of praline which is traditionally equal parts caster sugar and nuts (in this case hazelnuts) you put the sugar in a pan on medium heat and cook without stirring until it has melted and is a nice dark caramel colour. Add the nuts and stir to combine then immediately tip onto a silicon lined baking tray and allow to cool. Break up into chunks then process in a food processor until smooth. You can then mix it into melted chocolate and 
you have a much better quality nutella, yum!

My turn next - keep posted! Now on a different note... to figure out why my lemon curd didn't work and then to make some snowflakes!  

November 27, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Pops/Balls

I only heard about red velvet cake a few years ago but have only now decided to give it a go. I found a recipe I will share which I have tweaked slightly from The Velveteen Baker's blog (and which does not require you to buy a boxed cake mix as I have never seen them here in the UK anyway).

Why red velvet - they are RED - blood red (or raw meat red as my boss described them) but it really is only a chocolate cake with red food colouring and a bit of vinegar (to get a bubble reaction with the baking soda apparently). I have read that if you prefer not to use food colouring (there is a lot in this recipe I must say) that you can use beetroot - I haven't tried it but I will next time to make it a bit more natural.

For the cake (I will update this next time I make with weighted measurements)

2.5cups + 5Tbsp plain flour, sift before measuring
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1Tbsp + 1tsp natural cocoa powder, not dutch-processed
1.5cups vegetable oil
1 c milk (semi skimmed) with 1tsp lemon juice or vinegar added to it (aka buttermilk), room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2Tbsp red food colouring - yes a lot (you can add beet juice instead but i haven't made to figure out how much)
1tsp white distilled vinegar
1tsp Vanilla extract

For the cream cheese icing:
2.25 cups icing sugar sifted
4oz  of cream cheese, softened
0.25cups mascarpone cheese (I completely missed this out  - and they were still good!)
4Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
05tsp vanilla extract

PreHeat oven to 180 Celsius (fan) 350 Fahrenhit

In a medium bowl mix the sifted flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda & salt.
In a large bowl  gently beat the oil, milk, eggs, vinegar, vanilla and colouring
Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until smooth.

Pour into a lined pan (round/square, whatever you want as it will just get crumpled up afterward) (9x13 is a guide)

Bake for approx 30min (turn once halfway through). Cool in the pan for 10min then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled it is a good idea to cut off any 'hard' crusts that may have formed so that the cake balls are not crunchy - use a serrated knife or a cake saw (love it!)

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese, mascapone, butter and vanilla until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until smooth. 

Rub together your cake into crumbs and add icing. Mix together until all gooey and combined (yep - very messy)
Roll out balls (about walnut sized) and place on a lined baking sheet or plate (something that will fit into the fridge or freezer). The freezer works best. Leave to set for at least 30min.

Coat with chocolate as you wish and decorate with whatever takes your fancy on the day!

In looking for recipes I came across a blog whereby it appears not to be such a new idea (red velvet) but has been passed down for some generations in America - here is a take on the above if you wanted to try something different

Here's the icing recipe that's been passed down in my family. The recipe comes from Grandma, but the directions are from my mom.
5 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
Cook flour & milk until thick, whisking constantly. Take off heat & lay plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming; cool in refrigerator. Cream together sugar & butter/margarine. Add cooled flour mixture & vanilla & beat with electric mixer for a long time until fluffy.

    Albert Roux's souffle Suisesse

    I was ever so lucky to get to go to le Gavroche last year for one of the most amazing meals I have ever had in my life.  For my starter I had the house speciality - the soufflé Suisesse (twice baked cheese soufflé) which was like a mouthful of cloudy heaven! A month later I decided to try out the recipe for part of my Valentine's day dinner for the other half! It obviously wasn't as heavenly but it sure had the flavour (and the calories - but they don't count on treats like this do they now?!)

    Now despite what people have said, soufflés should not be perceived as that difficult to make - just follow the recipe and the timings and get your oven temperature right and it should turn out lovely (the best part is you have to bake this one twice so it will naturally not be perfectly risen by the time you serve it anyway!)

    This is Albert Roux's recipe as served as first served at Le Gavroche 46 years ago - and still is

    Serves 4
    45g butter
    45g plain flour
    500ml milk
    5 egg yolks
    salt and freshly ground white pepper
    6 egg whites
    600ml double cream 
    200g grated mature cheddar and compte cheese

    OR gruyère or emmental 

    Heat the oven to 180ºC
    Melt the butter in a thick-based saucepan, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring continuously, for about 1 minute. 
    Whisk in the milk and boil for 3 minutes, whisking all the time to prevent any lumps from forming. Beat in the yolks and remove from the heat, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a piece of buttered greaseproof paper to prevent a skin from forming.
    Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form firm, not stiff, peaks. Once the egg yolk mixture cools slightly (so that the egg white doesn't cook), add a third of the egg whites to the yolk mixture and beat with a whisk until evenly mixed, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites - no white should be visible - be gentle though.

    Spoon the mixture (but don't smooth or tap to ensure all of the air is kept in)  into four well-buttered 8cm-diameter tartlet moulds (I used ramekins) (this can not be stressed enough - all of the effort for this and they end up getting stuck) Butter like you haven't buttered before!  Then place in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the tops begin to turn golden. 
    Meanwhile, season the cream with a little salt, warm it gently and pour into a warmed gratin dish (if it is cold the soufflé will flop). Sprinkle some of the cheese on the cream then turn the soufflés out into the cream, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the soufflés, then return to the oven for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

    mmmmmm - light and fluffy and such a wonderful treat
    See the brothers Albert & Michel cook the Souffle together

    October 09, 2011

    Fluffy Toffee Apple Cake

    What do you think of when you think of autumn in the baking kitchen? Apples is the top of my list – and as it is nearly Halloween and (Canadian thanksgiving for me) Toffee Apples is something that always associates - so here is a fluffy Toffee Apple Cake I pieced together thanks to Ruth. Ruth from  set a challenge on coming up with an apple recipe... it was well worth the challenge! 
    Here is a list of all of the entries  (including mine!) on Ruth's blog
    If you LOVE being in the kitchen and doing things in stages then you may just love this. There are several steps as unfortunately  (or fortunately for me I should say) I had something in my head as to flavour and texture of what I wanted but couldn't find a recipe so therefore I had to do a bit of hunting and lots of tweaking to come up with this lovely autumnal treat.

    If you want to whip something up in a hurry…this isn't the cake I'm afraid but luckily the steps allow you to save time by prepping ahead. Just make the cake the day you need it but everything else can be made a day or two or three in advance. 
    250g self-raising flour
    1tsp baking powder
    225g caster sugar
    2 eggs
    ½ tsp vanilla
    150g butter, melted
    225g Cider Apple Butter * see below
    190 g peeled, chopped apples (I am using pink lady apples)
    90g light brown sugar
    1 tbsp plain Flour
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    30 g butter or margarine
    60 g finely chopped pecans, toasted
    Fluffy Toffee Frosting
    250ml double cream
    300g light brown sugar 
    ½ tsp baking soda
    115g butter
    Chopped toasted pecans

    Cinder Apple Butter
    600g   apples  (about 4 med sized – pink ladies or apples from your garden)
    100ml  apple cider  (or cloudy apple juice) *not alcoholic!
    375g  brown sugar  
    zest of ¼ lemon (about a tsp)
    zest of ½ orange (about a tsp)  
    ½ lemon Juice (one generous squeeze)
    ½ orange Juice (one generous squeeze)
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. allspice
    1/8 tsp. grated/ground cloves
    1/8 tsp. grated/ground nutmeg

    If you want to make ahead of time I suggest making the apple butter anywhere from a day to a week in advance (keep in a steralised jar in the fridge) * you could just use a store bought jar of apple butter if yo can find it – Pilsbury’s suggest Smucker's®  (America only probably but you can find on amazon and ebay) 

    Then make the frosting (it takes 1.5hours to cool plus about 20min to make so this can be done the day before or before the cake on the day so that you don’t have to wait around patiently)

    Then make the filling (again this could be made up to a day ahead kept sealed)

    Then make the cake

    The Apple Butter
    Contrary to the name there is no butter in this. The final product is a nice jam/butter like texture.

    Core and quarter apples, but do not peel.
    Place in heavy bottomed pot with apple cider/juice.
    Cook covered on low heat for about 15-20min until very soft  - make sure it does not burn!
    Keep covered – if you keep peeking the juices will evaporate and you will end up with burnt apples.

    Put the cooked apple mix into a hand blender/blitzer and blitz well (2min at least) as you want all of the goodness of the apple peels in your final butter! 
    Press cooked apple through a sieve  and you should get a little over  1cup  (250ml) of apple pulp. (don’t worry if it is a bit more or less as you are going to top it up with sugar to taste!)

    Add ½ cup of brown sugar (a little more if you had more than one cup of pulp (guide is to allow 1/2 cup brown sugar for every 1 cup of pulp) Give it a really good mix –it should now look like brown sugar caramel!  Now return it to the pan.

    Stir in lemon and orange peel and juice, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.

    Cook covered on low for about 30-35 minutes–it will start getting thick after 10min and it just gets richer and richer. Again keep watch - make sure it doesn’t burn!  Makes about 1 cup.
    If you are making in advance (or increasing the quantities to save for later, pour directly into sterilised jars when mixture still hot)

    The Spiced Apple Butter Cake
    HEAT oven to 180deg celcius (non fan) 170deg fan oven

    Grease with veg oil or spray & Line with baking parchment  one 8.5” (22cm)  round springform tin
    (if you use a larger tin you will get a shorter cake which means thinner layers)

    BEAT all of the cake ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed just until blended, about 2 minutes. Spread batter in prepared pan.

    BAKE 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Place cake on serving plate. Once completely cooled slice cake in two equal halves – a top and a bottom.
    Add all filling ingredients except pecans in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until apples are tender. (make sure you watch it – I burnt my first lot by looking away for a minute)
    Stir in toasted pecans. (see tip)

    Reserve 2tbsp of the cream (set aside)
    In a medium, heavy saucepan, bring the sugar and remaining cream to a rolling 
    boil (watch like a hawk!)
            Boil for one minute. Add soda, and boil one more minute it will start to grow -  if you have made honeycomb or almond rocca before this is what it will resemble when baking. Timings are important – you need to ensure the sugar is dissolved – but you can not stir it.
    Remove from heat.

    Add butter, but do not stir yet. Do not be tempted to stick your finger in for a little taste – it is hot!
    Let the mixture cool. You need to be patient. If you are too hasty this frosting
    will turn into a runny glaze and not the light and fluffy texture we are after.

    Make sure you do not stir as tempting as it might be – stirring changes the
    composition and sugar crystals will appear which you don’t want. If you have
    room put the pan in the fridge once it is at a temperature where the pot won’t
    melt your shelf! Cool in the fridge for at least 1-1/2 hours. It won’t look so pretty
    and fluffy after this time but we are not finished yet!

    After it has cooled, use a hand mixer and add in the reserved cream. Mix until nice and fluffy. The colour will change from dark to light.
    Now after all of that hard work it’s time to assemble your cake
    Layer the apple filling onto the bottom half of your cake. Carefully put the top of the cake back on.
    Using a pallet knife or a spatula, lightly frost your cake. Sprinkle with chopped toasted pecans to finish.  No need to wait any longer… tuck in!

    TIP To toast pecans: Place pecans in dry nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat, shaking pan until nuts are lightly browned.

    Recipe Adapted from a number of different sourced recipes
    Pilsbury  (cake idea & tweaked)
    Epicurean (Apple Butter) (Yellow cake mix)  (Fluffy Caramel Frosting tweaked and used suggestions from others in comments
    Mary Berrys Baking Bible (American Apple Cake – tweaked)
    and of course...inspiration again by Ruth at and the Pink Whisk Challenge - October