Thursday, November 20, 2014

London Porter Cake with Lemon Glaze #BundtBakers

Lovely, rich and fruity, made with porter beer, raisins and candied peel, then dressed up with lemon glaze, this Bundt cake is perfect for dessert or teatime. 

Baking with Booze
A couple of weeks back I was reviewing a beautiful cookbook called Food Truck Road Trip – A Cookbook. I mixed a morning pick-me-up cocktail made with porter beer, coffee and ginger that was absolutely delicious. Since this month’s Bundt Bakers’ theme is boozy cakes I decided to use porter in a cake as well. It has such a wonderful rich flavor that I knew it make a great cake. An internet search revealed that porter is commonly used in cakes in Ireland so what I thought was a great idea was hardly novel. Sometimes it’s best to leave some things to the experts so this recipe comes from Rachel Allen, queen of Irish cooking and baking and is slighted adapted for a Bundt pan. I’ve also added a lemon glaze because I was taking this as my dessert contribution to a champagne tasting dinner and, while the plain cake was tasty, I felt it needed a shiny glaze for such a nice evening affair. I am pleased to say that the cake was well received and enjoyed by all.

If you like baking with liquor, you are going to love this month’s Bundt Bakers round up of cakes, hosted by Lauren from From Gate to Plate. Scroll down to see the whole fabulous list of boozy Bundts.

For the cake batter:
3 1/2 cups or 450g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 225g butter, chilled
1 cup packed or 225g light brown sugar
1 pound or 450g golden or black raisins or a mixture of both
3 ounces or 75g chopped candied peel, store-bought or homemade
2 eggs
12 oz or 330ml porter or stout

For the lemon glaze:
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/4 cup or 60ml warm water
1/4 cup or 60ml lemon Juice
Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your Bundt pan by spraying it liberally with non-stick spray for baking.

Measure the flour, nutmeg, mixed spice, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk it well to aerate and combine.

Cut the butter in small cubes and add to the flour mixture. Use the end of the whisk or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until you get a sandy texture.

Stir in the brown sugar, raisins and candied peel.

Whisk the eggs in another bowl and add the porter.

Pour the egg/porter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 65-75 minutes, or until a wooden skewer or toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean. If the cake is browned before it’s done, cover it with foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the Bundt pan for about 10 minutes.

Turn it out and set to cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the lemon glaze. Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar dissolves.

Brush over top and sides of cake a little at a time, allowing the glaze to soak in. Keep applying the glaze until you’ve used it all or until it’s time to take it off to the dinner party.


Boozy Bundts are perfect for the holidays! Hope you find some inspiration here:


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Séches aux Gingembre #CreativeCookie Exchange

These light cookies are perfect for dunking in a cup of tea or for serving after dinner with a coffee. They are just sweet enough with a little heat from crystallized ginger and a sprinkle of ginger sugar. 

This month’s Creative Cookie Exchange ingredient is ginger so I did something I’ve been wanting to do since a year ago April. I added some crystallized ginger to my friend, Jamie’s traditional French séches recipe, from over at Life’s A Feast and then, for good measure, sprinkled some ginger sugar on top. Divine! Perfect for getting into the Christmas spirit.

If you are ready for some gingerful baking, make sure you scroll on down to the bottom to see what the rest of the Creative Cookie Exchange bakers have for you, along with our fearless leader, Laura from The Spiced Life.

For the cookie dough:
Scant 1 cup sifted flour (sifted before measuring) or 120g plus extra for kneading and rolling
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
25g or a small handful of crystallized ginger pieces
2 3/4 tablespoons or 40g chilled unsalted butter (by which I mean straight from the refrigerator)
Pinch salt
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons or 100ml heavy cream

For the ginger-sugar:
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.

In a small bowl, mix together your ginger and sugar to make the ginger-sugar. Set aside.

Mince your crystallized ginger with a sharp knife or put it in a food processor to chop it up finely. The ginger gets really sticky when cut so the food processor is easier, if you have one.

Combine your flour and sugar for the dough in a mixing bowl and add in the cold butter, cut into cubes. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour, working quickly, until you have a sandy texture. You might still see some small bits of butter and that’s fine. That where the flakiness will come from when they bake, kind of like rough puff pastry.

Add the crystallized ginger bits to the flour mixture and use your fingers or the pastry blender to separate the sticky bits from each other and coat them with flour.

Add in the salt and the egg yolk and mix thoroughly with a fork.

Add in the cream and mix until you have a soft dough.

Scrape the dough out onto a clean surface sprinkled with flour and knead it for a few turns, until it is smooth and homogeneous.

Flour your rolling pin and a large piece of baking parchment and place your dough ball in the center with another light sprinkling of flour.

Roll the dough out into a large circle, about a 1/4 inch or 7mm thick.

Slide your parchment with the dough onto a cookie sheet and dust the circle liberally with ginger-sugar.

Gently cut the circle of dough into triangles with a knife.

Sprinkle on any remaining ginger-sugar.

Bake your cookies in your preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes or until puffed and set.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for just a few minutes. While they are still warm, use your knife to separate the triangles again. Allow to cool completely.


Bake some ginger cookies and your whole house will smell like Christmas is coming, I promise! I hope this wonderful link list will inspire you.

If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts. You can find all of them here at The Spiced Life. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Homemade English Muffins #NationalHomemadeBreadDay #MuffinMonday

English muffins are a traditional British bread made with yeast but cooked on the once-upon-a-time ubiquitous griddle. According to my current baking idol Paul Hollywood, even if you didn’t have an oven, back in the day, you surely had a griddle to make muffins, crumpets, Welsh cakes and the like. In fact, in the days before most homes had ovens, the griddle was the most efficient way of producing homemade bread. I'd like to suggest that it still is. 

Today I am celebrating Muffin Monday by making a different kind of muffin because it is also National Homemade Bread Day! And while normal muffins are still considered bread, I felt like getting my hands in some yeasty dough for the occasion. This special edition of Bread Bakers was instigated by Lauren, at From Gate to Plate so she is hosting today’s celebration! Hey, raise your hand and I’ll put you in charge. Thanks, Lauren!

Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of my post to see the link list of all the wonderful homemade breads we have today. We hope to inspire you to bake some bread and have a wonderful National Homemade Bread Day!

The following is adapted from these two recipes by King Arthur Flour and Paul Hollywood.

Ingredients for 16 English muffins
For the muffin dough:
1 3/4 cups or 415ml milk
3 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 cups or 570g strong white bread flour, plus more for cutting the dough into pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg

For final proofing and cooking:
Semolina or fine cornmeal, for sprinkling the griddle or pan

Measure your milk into a microwave proof vessel and then add the butter. Gently warm the milk until it is lukewarm. If you are a thermometer using type, you want it somewhere between 120-130° F or 49°–55°C. This should also soften the butter but it doesn't have to be completely melted.

Add the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and egg to the mixing bowl of your stand mixer. (I imagine you can do this by hand but it’s going to be hard work and, honestly, I don’t recommend it unless you are looking for a strenuous workout.)

Pour in the warm milk/butter mixture.

Beat the ingredients together until they form a soft sticky dough.

Just  coming together
Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl, then keep beating on medium high for at least five minutes.

Getting stretchier
You are looking for smooth shiny stretchy dough that has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.

Pulling right away from the sides of the bowl

Scrape the sides of your bowl again to form the dough into a ball. Cover and allow to rise at least one hour.

Here’s where you can be getting your griddle pans ready for the next step. If you only have one griddle, coat it with semolina or cornmeal and do the same with a baking sheet. If you have two griddles, coat them both liberally.

When the dough has finished the first rise, punch it down down gently and tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a sharp knife dipped in flour to cut the dough into 16 pieces.

Form the pieces into balls and place them on your prepared griddles or griddle and baking sheet. Press them out gently into circles about 3-3 1/2 in or 7 1/2-9cm.

Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with more semolina or cornmeal. Cover them with sheets of parchment paper and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Cook the muffins over a very low flame for seven to 15 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 200°F or 94°C.

If they rise and start to stick together, sprinkle a little more cornmeal where they are joining and use the point of a sharp knife to separate the muffins. Otherwise they are going to be a challenge to turn over.

I turned mine after seven minutes and, after a minute or two, I started to shift them around the griddle, scooting the ones in the middle to the outside and vice versa. Since my flame is in the middle, I figured those were getting cooked faster than the outside muffins.

After seven minutes on the second side, I checked the internal temperature and it registered 190°F or 88°C so I turned them over again and left them for three minutes. Then I turned them over one last time, turned the fire off and left them on the hot griddle for three more minutes.

So to recap: 1. On my lowest flame I cooked them seven minutes on one side. 2. Then seven minutes on the other side. 3. Checked my internal temperature. 4. Three minutes on the first side again and 5. three more minutes on the other side with the fire off. Ten minutes in all on the griddle on each side.

The King Arthur recipe says that you can put them for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F or 180°C if they are getting too brown on the outside before they finish cooking inside but that wasn’t necessary for me.

Place your finished English muffins on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before serving. Split the muffins with a fork poked in all around the sides to get the nice knobbly texture we like inside.


Check out all the other celebratory breads we’ve been baking for you today!
Bread Bakers
What is Bread Bakers?
It is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Bread Bakers Pinterest Board. Links are also updated after each event on the Bread Bakers home page.

How is the monthly theme determined?
We take turns hosting each month and the host gets to choose the theme/ingredient.

Would you like to join in the fun?
If you are a food blogger, send an email with your blog name and url to

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