Irish Cream Cake (I used Baileys)

I have a one litre bottle of Bailey’s in my fridge and although it’s very tasty I’m certain that it’s going to reach its expiry date before I’m able to drink the whole thing and it seems an unacceptable waste to consider pouring it down the sink.

I have made lots of cakes where I’ve soaked fruit in spicy and honey whiskey so I started to think that I could cook with it.  All I need was a cake recipe where milk was used so that I could substitute some of the milk for some of the Baileys.

I looked at loads and loads of recipes and decided to wing it and make up my own because none of them were quite what I was looking for.  This is what I ended up making:-

Ingredients

165g butter
100ml milk (I used long life skimmed milk)
120ml Baileys
330g sugar (I used a mix of soft brown and granulated)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons lemon juice
70g cocoa powder

Method

  1. Put the lemon juice in the milk and set to one side.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 deg c (fan oven) and line and grease a tin.  I used a heart shaped tin but I also made a tester in a cupcake case so you can use this recipe for cupcakes too.
  3. Cream together your sugar and butter.
  4. Add the eggs and whisk again until incorporated.
  5. Add in your flour, bicarb and cocoa and mix gently before adding in your milk and Baileys.
  6. Mix well and pour into your prepared tin and place spoonfuls into cupcake cases.
  7. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (you’ll probably want to cover the top of the cake after about 25 minutes to stop it burning).  If you’re making cupcakes then these should only need around 15 to 20 minutes.

I don’t think my nephews were particularly happy with me as they spied a big chocolate cake but were advised not to have it due to the quantity of alcohol in it.  I had made a big bannoffee pie as well so I didn’t feel too bad!  This cake does have quite a hit.  It’s nice on its own but if you wanted to jazz it up a bit you could split it and put buttercream between the layers but try it first as it’s already quite rich.

If you have a bottle of Baileys, or similar, in the fridge that’s about to reach its end then this might be a way of extending its life and making sure it doesn’t go to waste.

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Tomato Soup Cake

I immediately confess that I completely forgot to take a photo of this cake when it was finished but it looked good and it does taste really nice despite what you might think given the ingredients.

I think it’s good to keep experimenting with cooking and flavours as life gets boring if we eat the same things day in and day out.  I had heard about a tomato soup cake so I thought, why not, let’s give it a go and see what it’s like.

Ingredients

2 cups of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter
2 eggs
1 tin of tomato soup
2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cloves
2 cups of raisins/sultanas/currants (mix and match as to what you like best)
3 cups of plain flour

Method

  1. Cream together the sugar and butter.
  2. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly – if the mixture starts to split add a few spoons of your flour.
  3. Add the soup and mix well.
  4. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the fruit.
  6. Split the mixture into two loaf tins and bake at 180 deg c (fan oven) for about 45 minutes – until a skewer comes out clean.  If the tops of the cakes start to colour too much then cover with foil while they bake.
  7. Once cooled the cakes can have a cream cheese topping.  I used 2 cups of icing sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of milk and 90g of cream cheese.

I took these cakes to a family celebration and they were incredibly popular.  It wasn’t until people had tasted them that I told them they were more than just a fruit cake.  I tasted the cakes and can confirm that they don’t taste like tomato soup, if you didn’t know then you would never guess.

This is the mix – sorry there’s no picture of the cake but next time I make it I’ll take one!P1010635

 

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Mum’s Mini Noffee Pies

That time of year has rolled around again when it’s time to help Mum celebrate her birthday.  I really, really didn’t know what to make this year and then I had a great idea one morning as I was lying in the dark playing Candy Crush and wishing that I was asleep.

When the day came to execute my idea I was ready…I still think it was a great idea but I massively underestimated how difficult and time consuming it would be to execute however when I think of all of the things Mum has done for me over the years, a few hours on my feet in the kitchen was nothing.

Ingredients

Chocolate digestives
Digestives
Malted milk biscuits
Butter
Bananas
Double cream
Caramel – I bought the ready boiled tins of condensed milk but you can boil your own if you’re so inclined
Food colouring
Cake cases
Cake board
Icing sugar

Method

  1. Decide what you want your mini noffee pies to look like and lay out the cake cases on a board.  Decide how you are going to flavour then and colour them and then set to work.
  2. Blitz up your chosen biscuit in a food processor until it’s a fine crumb.
  3. Melt butter in the microwave and then mix in with the biscuit to create your base.  I didn’t weigh mine so added butter until the biscuits were a sticky consistency but not greasy.  If you put too much butter in the base will be really hard to cut through and if you put too little in the crumb will not stick together and form a solid base.
  4. Press your chosen biscuit crumb base in the cake cases.
  5. Spoon caramel on top of the biscuit crumb and spread evenly.
  6. Slice bananas and place on top of the caramel.
  7. Add sugar to taste and whip up your double cream until it’s nice and thick then separate out and colour as you like.  Don’t add too much colour as it will affect the taste and consistency of the cream.
  8. Spoon the cream into your cases.
  9. Please everything in the fridge for a while to harden up before you ‘glue’ the cases to the board using a mixture of icing sugar and a tiny drop of water.  You want the icing really thick so only a couple of drops of water are needed.

Now, I know that all sounds really simple but it looked like something had exploded in my kitchen once I’d made the three different biscuit bases and five different coloured creams.  What made things worse was that I couldn’t find my green colouring so had to make more yellow and blue cream to then make a green cream.  Imagine every bowl, dish, spoon, etc on the worktop and you’re getting close to how my kitchen looked but then imagine them all containing food colouring, cream, caramel, biscuits or something else food related.

Anyway, the good thing is that Mum loved what I made and everyone else said that they tasted good so I think a success overall.

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Home Cooked Meals with Leftovers

I’ve been working at home today and after days and days of eating some rather weird and wonderful ‘meals’ following Christmas I decided that I would make the most of being in the house and do a nice bit of cooking.

Let me set the scene – the day is awful.  It has been grim and dim all day with rain beating down and the threat that it might turn to snow later this afternoon.  I keep looking in the fridge and seeing bits and bobs of cheese and keep seeing ice cream tubs in the freezer and then being disappointed that they contain nothing more than left over vegetables.

I popped to the shops early this morning because I have fancied a curry for a while.  I got a branded jar of Madras sauce that was on offer and a cheap jar (44p) of mild curry sauce.  I checked all of the ingredients and was happy to see that neither of them had a nut allergy warning on.  I threw the jars of sauce in my slow cooker together with a big tub of veg and some left over chicken.  It’s been cooking away for hours now and I just had a sneaky spoonful and it’s very tasty.  I also threw in quite a bit of frozen spinach.  After the continuing excesses of Christmas I thought it was time for some good stuff.

My husband is not a fan of spicy food so I knew he wouldn’t like my curry but I knew he would like a cheesy pasta bake.  I had a couple of Mattessons sausages in the fridge so I chopped these into slices and added these to a frying pan which contains diced onions.  I boiled up some pasta and then put this in an oven proof glass dish together with the cooked onions and sausages (I also added a bit of garlic and a handful of chopped spinach.)

I then made a cheese sauce using up all of the different types of cheese we had in the fridge.  There were lots of types of cheese and only a bit of each so there’s a real mixture.  I made the sauce by taking two pints of skimmed milk and heating this up.  I added four tablespoons of cornflour to a jug and added a little milk to this – just enough to make a smooth paste.  I then add the cornflour to the milk, increased the heat a little and then whisked until I thought my arm was going to fall off.  The sauce started to thicken so I then whisked in all of the cheese until it was melted and delicious.  I then poured the sauce over the pasta and sausages.  That will go in the oven later for about 40 minutes.

On such a cold and miserable day it’s hard to not take solace in food!  What are you doing on this miserable and cold Thursday?

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Rainy Days and Mondays

It’s a rainy Monday and I’ve been up since 6am (a lie in for me!) and I started work before 8am this morning but I was working from home so my commute was just a trip down the stairs today (bliss!)  I’ve been working hard all day so as a five minutes aside I just wanted to write this.

I went out to meet a new client this morning; I’ve been working as a sole trader since August last year and I love it.  It can be very nerve wracking compared to having a regular monthly wage coming in no matter whether you’ve been on holiday or you’ve been ill been the change of life has been what I needed.

I absolutely love the job that I do as an accountant but I was finding that driving to the same place every day and having a routine life was getting me down.  I thought a change of company was all I needed, having worked at the same office for six years, so I tried working elsewhere but that was completely wrong and I only managed five weeks.  Self employment beckoned and I have a lot of very supportive people around me and I’m really enjoying my new life.  I work harder than ever before starting early in the morning and often finishing late at night but it’s just me and the client and I like that direct contact.

Where was I?  Oh yes, I went out this morning and had the radio on.  There was a doctor speaking to the presenter about the whole concept of ‘new me’ in the new year and the doctor was saying that it’s the worse thing that you can do to yourself.  I thought this was very interesting given the blog post I made over the weekend.  I like it when a medical professional agrees with me!  The doctor was discussing with the presenter the fact that she changed her eating habits in August of 2016 and wouldn’t dream of being a January changer.  The statistic was quoted that by 8 January (yesterday) at least 1/3 of people who made resolutions will have broken them.  Who needs another reason to make yourself feel bad?!

Anyway, tell me if you’ve ever made a resolution in January that’s changed your life or has starting something new at any other time of year been more successful.

I took advantage of being at home so much over Christmas and started to cleanse, tone and moisture my skin everyday.  I’ve kept it going now that I’m back to working and I have noticed that a really sore and dry cheek is now feeling much better – it also helps that I got some lovely products for Christmas that I want to use but I’ve told myself I must use up my old stuff before I can use them!

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New Year – New You?

I apologise for the long absence but I had a very busy run up to Christmas professionally and personally and I didn’t want to just throw nonsense posts up to mark time.

I’ve been composing a post in my head for a while but it keeps changing so I decided to get it down and see where it goes.

Essentially this post is about how much I hate the whole concept of ‘New Year – New You’.  Why are we dictated to about when we have to make changes in our life.  Why are we expected to make new year’s resolutions?  Why do we wait for a certain date to do things that we want to do and if we don’t want to do them why do we wait for a certain date to not achieve them and make ourselves feel bad?

As soon as the fun of Christmas is over all of the commercial breaks on TV become three minutes of us hearing how we’re not good enough because we need to lose weight, look and act differently and change all of the furniture in our home.  It’s not just TV adverts it’s everywhere – scroll down your social media feed and you’ll see pictures posted of green sludge that people are planning on drinking all year (I give it a week, maybe two).  You’ll see packs of the new fad seed or pulse or beans or whatever it is we’re being told we need to eat in the new year.  Why, why, why?!

If you want to lose weight then just do it; what significance does 1 January have?  Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years – these concepts are only significant for marking the passing of time but why do they have to influence us so much?

I know from experience that weight loss can only be achieved when you’re in the right frame of mind and really want to do that.  A frame of mind cannot be dictated by a date on a calendar which is why so many new year’s resolutions go out the window so quickly.

New Year – New Nothing!  That should be the mantra that we all live by.

I want to lose weight and I have done for a long time but weight loss for me is a massive uphill struggle with my ridiculous underactive thyroid.  Do I want to start losing weight on 1 January?  No, I don’t.  On 1 January I’m tired after a late night, I’m a bit glum that the fun of Christmas is all over and I’m not looking forward to the weeks of cold weather and dark mornings and evenings that lie ahead.  Why do I want to make myself more miserable by telling myself I’m on a diet?

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be dictated to about what you should be doing just because the fourth digit at the end of the date has changed.

If you want to make a change in your life then do it because it feels like the time is right for you.  If you want to lose weight you’ll know when the time is right.  It doesn’t even have to be in the morning that you make the change.  If it’s what you want to do then just do it when the time is right.

If you want to start exercising, same thing.  Don’t think that you’re a failure because we’re one week into January and you haven’t got up off the sofa yet.  You have the rest of your life to make a change.  If you want to make the change today then do it now – go for a wander, run up and down the stairs a few times – if you want to do it on 6 March, do it then.  If you feel ready on 25 November then that’s great too.  Who cares what the date is, listen to your body and your mind and live the life you want to live.

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Jack Daniels Fruit Cake

Hi and welcome to my latest post about a cake that contains a lot of alcohol!  My husband loves a Jack Daniels and has received a few bottles of the honey variety and the spicy variety that they have released but he’s a purist and prefers the JD that he drinks to be pure and simple.  This means that I have to find a new use for his JD and that seemed like a good challenge to me!

Last year I made a traditional Christmas cake and fed it lots and lots of JD and it was lovely.  The trouble with traditional Christmas cakes though is that making them is a pain, especially when you have to try and measure out black treacle which is the stickiest and most disgusting substance known to man.

This year I decided to do a bit of an experiment.  I soaked one batch of dried fruit in honey JD and one batch of fruit in spicy JD.  I left the fruit soaking for a number of weeks and then made two cakes below.  The recipe is for one cake.

Ingredients

450g mixed fruit (soaked in whatever you like – if you’re not into alcohol try tea)
450g self raising flour
125g sugar (caster, brown or granulated are all fine)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
A pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250ml milk (I use skimmed but any is fine)

Method

  1. Put the oven on at around 150 deg c.
  2. Line a loaf tin – I use loaf tin liners, I got a pack of 10 from Poundland – saves cutting up baking paper!
  3. Sift together the self raising flour, sugar, baking powder, mixed spice and salt.
  4. Rub in the butter – I do this using my KitchenAid – doing it with your hands is messy and time consuming!
  5. Fold in the fruit.
  6. Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the milk and then add this to the flour mix and stir until everything’s combined.  It does feel like it’s never going to combine but keep going.
  7. Put the mixture into the loaf tin and place in the oven for about an hour and three quarters.  After about an hour you will probably want to cover the cake with a piece of tin foil to stop the cake getting burnt on top while the rest of it cooks.
  8. Leave the cake to cool completely before trying to slice otherwise it will just crumble to pieces.

I made one with honey and one with spicy and asked the family to do a taste test.  It was really split, you could definitely tell that they were different but there was no firm favourite.  Mum liked one, Dad liked the other, Mum-in-law liked one, Dad-in-law liked the other.  It was a total split!  I have just made another couple of loaves where I soaked the fruit in both types of alcohol (I used half a cup of each) and it was a hit so that’s what I’m making this year.  In the next couple of days I will put my fruit into soak and that’ll be me getting ready for Christmas.  I was going to say it’s my first step but that would be a lie!  I’ve started making Christmas crackers, I have my table decorations which just need to be assembled and filled with sweeties.  I have a busy December with family birthdays so I need to do all of this early so I’m not faffing about Christmas around the birthdays and can give people the attention they deserve.

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