Beetroot Brownies

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We all know Christmas is about excess, I'm sure I'm not the only person overdosing on mince pies and roast potatoes at the moment.  Even with the promise of never-ending chocolate resources which the festive period brings there's always a little bit of my mind thinking about January.  When your waistline has taking a pounding from all the excess calories January is the time for repentance; cakes and puddings are out, kale and green smoothies are in.  

Even with all the good intentions in the universe we all know eventually we're going to give in, there's only so many times you can resist the biscuit tin.   The only thing to do is anticipate your demise and plan for it.  That's where these beetroot brownies come in.  Now I'm not going to sell these are a health food, even if I've tried to convince myself that they simply must contain one of my five a day.  What these brownies are good for is a nice hit of chocolate with around half the fat of a regular brownie.  Naughty but ever so slightly nicer.  

Just remember, this doesn't mean you can eat twice as much.  Naughty!

Beetroot Brownies

500g pre-cooked beetroot
100g unsalted butter
250g good quality plain chocolate
1tsp vanilla extract
200g light brown sugar
3 large eggs
125g plain flour
25g cocoa powder

Heat oven to 175°C and line a 20cmx30cm baking tray with greaseproof paper, you can also use a disposable foil tray if you're lazy like me.  Place a small saucepan over a low heat and melt the butter, stir in your chocolate and heat slowly till all melted together, remove from heat and set aside.  

Pop your beetroot into a blender and whiz till smooth.  Pour in the chocolate and butter and give another quick whiz to blend everything together.  While getting your blend on mix the sugar, vanilla and eggs together in a stand mixer till creamy and fluffy.  Pour your chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and mix until everything is combined.  Stir through the flour and cocoa and pour the batter into your prepared tin.  Bake for 25 minutes until just set.  Allow to cool completely and cut into squares.  


Black Velvet Cake


There's something about the festive period that forces me to soak anything and everything with booze.  We've started rolling out a new range of cocktail cupcakes in the bakery, I have various jars of fruit infused alcohol maturing away in my kitchen, I physically cannot go to the shops without purchasing a bottle of something fun, I mean I'm even writing this with a gin and tonic in my hand.  'Tis the season after all.


This black velvet cake is no exception.  A delightfully dark and fudgy Guinness chocolate cake topped with a light and fluffy champagne cream cheese frosting.  Woah, right?  I don't think I've ever met a cake more deserving of a place on a Christmas table than this majestic specimen. Guinness for the dudes, champagne for the ladies, or the other way around of course.  I know plenty of lasses that can knock back more than a few pints of the black stuff, I am from Newcastle after all. Ha!

In short, make this cake and get ready to become everyone's best friend.  I've yet to meet someone that can resist it's Irish charms.

Black Velvet Cake
Adapted from Nigella Laweson

You will need:
375ml Guinness
375g unsalted butter
150g cocoa
600g caster sugar
225ml sour cream
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp bicarb

250g unsalted butter, softened
125g philidelphia
750g icing sugar
Splash of full fat milk

Heat oven to 175ºC. Butter and line two 9" springform cake tins.  In a large saucepan, combine the Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until the butter melts and remove from heat. Add the cocoa and sugar stirring till combined.

In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Add to Guinness mixture and stir together. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into your prepared tins, and bake until risen and firm, around 45 minutes.  Once baked allow the cakes to cool completely in their tins before removing to decorate.

For the frosting whip the butter and cream cheese together till creamy.  Pour the icing sugar and mix together, slowly, drop in the champagne flavouring remembering less is more.  Add a splash of milk until you reach a spreadable texture.  Slather half of the frosting on the first cake, sandwich with the second cake and top with the remaining frosting. 


Midweek Weekend: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel

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A few weeks ago I was invited to spend a few days at the lovely Ox Pasture Hall Hotel*.  After a tough few weeks in the bakery, a night away from the bustle of Newcastle was just what the doctor ordered.  Being a weekend worker my boyfriend and I decided to head down on Monday morning and enjoy a a couple of quiet days in the Yorkshire countryside.

Deep into November the dark nights were well and truly upon us, despite arriving just after 3pm it was already beginning to come in dark.  After checking in we were shown to our suite by the super friendly staff before heading into the hotel for afternoon tea.  The room was pleasant, clean and relaxing but the wow factor came with the huge modern bathroom. I simply couldn't wait to relax in the giant tub.

After getting settled in we trotted off for our afternoon tea by a roaring fire, not bad for on a icy cold Novembers afternoon.  We filled ourselves full of delicious little cakes, scones and sandwiches before heading back to the room for a long bath and a nap.  We lounged in our robes feeling fully relaxed and content with our full tummies.  

We spend a few hours wandering around the gardens and chilling out in the room while we built up an appetite for our evening meal.  For a normal person this probably would have taken much longer, but being a total food gremlin I was ready for another feed by 8pm.  We fancied ourselves up and strolled along to the lounge where we were treated to a glass of prosecco while we perused the dinner menu.  We were both so impressed by the food on offer, it's no surprise that the Courtyard Restaurant is regarded as the best restaurant in Scarborough, boasting two rosettes for culinary excellence.

Curried parsnip soup appetiser.

Wild mushroom risotto.

Ham terrine with crispy quails egg.

Seared cod with chorizo ratatouille and crispy gnocchi. 

Mini beef fillet and mini beef brisket with mushroom ragu and creamed potato.

Assiette of desserts.
We were blown away by the quality of our meal, every aspect was superb including the service.  Our waiter was the most adorable young man, knowledgeable and just the right amount of banter.   Neither of us could decide on a dessert so we were recommended the assiette, mini versions of all the best elements on the menu.  We were in food heaven!

Well rested and full of a delicious full Yorkshire breakfast we took a little stroll around the gardens.  It was just as lovely in the sunshine as it was during the dusk.  I can highly recommend Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, we had a wonderful time relaxing in the beautiful surroundings and wouldn't hesitate to return, if only for a little more of the amazing food on offer.  

Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel
North York Moors National Park
North Yorkshire
YO12 5TD
T: 01723 365 295
@: OxPastureHotel

Maple Bacon Doughnuts


I bloody love doughnuts, to be honest who doesn't?!  These little sweet rings of delight are the treat I always fall back on.  Sad, drown your sorrows in a  doughnut.  Happy, celebrate with a doughnut. Hungover, eat your weight in doughnuts.  There is nothing in my life that can't be improved upon with the addition of doughnuts.  

With all of this in mind, I must admit that I have never actually made a doughnut in my life.  I needed something epic to break my doughy virginity, something truly awesome.  I think these maple bacon doughnuts hit the nail on the head perfectly!

The sweet, smokey maple syrup paired with the salty bacon made the perfect accompaniment to my favorite snack.  I have to admit, owning a deep fryer makes this process a whole lot easier but you can always use a big old heavy pan if you aren't as into kitchen gadgetry as me.  I treated myself to this little bugger a few month ago and have been resisting the urge to deep fry everything since.

You will need:
For the doughnuts:
200ml full fat milk, lukewarm
3tsp dried active yeast
1tsp caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
325g plain flour
3tbsp vegetable fat
1tbsp maple syrup
1/tsp salt
1 large egg
Vegetable oil for frying

For the glaze:
250g icing sugar
60ml pure maple syrup
8 rashers of streaky bacon
50g brown sugar

In a large glass jug mix the warmed milk, caster sugar and dried yeast together.  Leave for around 5 minutes till the mixture begins to look frothy.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the remaining doughnut ingredients and mix together on a low speed.  Slowly add the yeast mixture to the bowl and continue mixing until the dough forms.

Coat the inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable oil and place the dough inside, cover with an oiled sheet of cling film and allow to prove until doubled in size.  This should take around 30-40 minutes.

While your dough is rising, cook your bacon.   Lay the rashers of baking on a prepared baking tray, sprinkle each side of the bacon with the brown sugar and grill until crispy.  Set aside and once cool chop into shards.

Once your dough has risen line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and set aside.  Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to 1/2 and inch thick.  Using a round cutter (you can choose to make your doughnuts as large or small as you please) cut out rounds and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.  Take a piping nozzle or a small round cutter and cut small circles out of the center of your doughnuts. Re-roll out your remaining dough until you've cut out as many doughnuts as possible, you should get around 10 - 12.

Allow to rise again on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat your oil in a deep fat fryer or in a large heavy bottomed pan until it reaches 175°C, use a candy thermometer for best results. (I use this one)

Fry the doughnuts for 2 minutes on each side, ensuring not to over crowd the pan.  Remove and allow to cool on a tray lined with kitchen roll.  Continue until all your doughnuts are cooked. 

To make the glaze simply mix the maple syrup and icing sugar together in a bowl.  If it's too thick add a little water until it reaches your desired consistency.  Dip the doughnuts in the glaze and sprinkle with shards of bacon. 

Enjoy your epic doughnut!



Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Brownies

Where has the time gone, dear friends?! I certainly didn't intend to take a five month blogging hiatus, it just kinda happened.  To be perfectly honest I think I feel into the same trap many bloggers fall into, I became disillusioned.  Bigger and better blogs began popping up in my home city of Newcastle and I felt there was no longer room for my little Katiecakes.  Then I snapped back and thought screw it!  I'm reclaiming my corner of the internet and promise never to neglect it, or you again... that is if I still have any readers.

Halloween is almost upon us and what better way to get back into this blogging business than with a kick ass autumnal brownie adaption.  Sticking with my trusty brownie base I added a spiced pumpkin cheesecake layer studded with crunchy chopped pecans. 

You will need:
150g full fat cream cheese
1 large egg
200g caster sugar
220g canned pumpkin
1tbsp plain flour 
1tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
handful of chopped pecans

250g good quality plain chocolate (70% solids are best)
250g unsalted butter
350g light brown sugar
5 large free range eggs
150g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a 13" by 9" brownie pan with baking paper or do what I do and use a disposable foil tray!
First make your cheesecake layer.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whisk together the cream cheese, sugar and egg.  Once the cheesecake is thick and creamy add the canned pumpkin, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk again and set aside while you make your brownies.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture catching.  Once the mixture is fully combined and smooth take the pan off the heat and add the sugar, mixing with a large balloon whisk.  Once sugar is combined whisk the eggs together in a large bowl and add to the brownie mixture, mixing till smooth. 
Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan.  Drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture on top and swirl together with a knife.  Pour the remaining brownie batter into the pan and top with more spoonfuls of cheesecake, swirling together when finished.  Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and bake for 30 - 40 minutes until the brownies are set with a slight wobble in the center.
Cool completely before serving.


Rhubarb and Custard Cupcakes

I love rhubarb season, it's probably the only seasonal produce that I really get excited about.  Well, that and asparagus, but who doesn't get a jolly on for asparagus? 

I was visiting a local farm shop recently, picking up some bits and bobs for lunch when my eye was caught by a massive tub of the beautiful rosy stalks.  The lovely lady who worked their informed me it had just been picked from their fields that morning.  That's all I needed to hear, so I loaded up my basket with the pink stems and off I trotted.

Sadly Kris isn't as much of a fan of rhubarb as I, claiming it's too tart, so all ideas of rhubarb crumble went right out the window.  After much deliberation I decided to create a rhubarb compote to fill some custard flavoured cupcakes, genius.  The best thing about owning a cake shop is I get to bake as many cakes as I want and they never go to waste, there's always a bustling crowd desperate to try out any experimental sponges.

 You will need:
175g butter, softened
150g self-raising flour
50g custard powder
175g caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

3 large, free range eggs
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract

For the compote:
450g rhubarb, cut into chunks
150g caster sugar
150ml water
1tsp vanilla extract 

For the frosting:
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g icing sugar
50g custard powder
50ml milk


For the compote place the rhubarb, sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat.  Simmer for around 20 minutes or until the compote is thick and smelling delicious, add the vanilla extract then remove from the heat.  Set aside while you make the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
Place all of your cake ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix to combine.  Once all of the ingredeints are blended together, using an ice cream scoop divide the mixture between the cupcake cases.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden and spring back with touched.  Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out to finish cooling on a wire rack.

When the cakes are cool cut a hollow out from the middle of each sponge, this is easiest with an apple corer, and fill with the rhubarb compote.

To make the frosting place the butter, vanilla, custard powder, icing sugar and half of the milk into your electric mixer and mix to combine.  If your frosting is looking too stiff add a bit more milk until you reach a pipable consistancy.

Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle the pipe tall swirls of the icing on top of each cupcake. Top with a fondant flower or pink sprinkles to finish.

S'more Bars

Growing up in the chilly North East of England means I was never introduced to the wonders that are s'mores.  Where American pre-teens were toasting marshmallows in the evening breeze I was licking a 99 on a drizzly pier somewhere in Whitley Bay.  As I grew I started to notice the sticky treats on TV, I yearned to try them but never really got around to it. 

Last year I was gifted a chimnea for my garden, my first thought was "S'MORES!" closely followed by "finally, I can drink beers in the garden without freezing my arse off".  We grabbed a six pack of Blue Moon and all the fixings for a s'mores party and fired up the chiminea.  I was underwhelmed, the digestives were too fat, the chocolate didn't melt and the marshmallow was just too damn small.  I guess it's just not in my blood.  That'll teach me for not hitting up the ludicrously expensive American isle in my local Tesco.

I gave up on s'mores, with my first experience tainted with sticky disappointment I cast them from my mind and focused on cupcakes and cookies instead.  That was until I came across this recipe nestled within my new American themed cookbook.  I simply had to give them another shot, and boy was I glad I did.  I tweaked the recipe to give me two large trays so I could share them with the customers of Pet Lamb, the recipe I have included below will give you enough for one tray of bars.

 S'mores Bars

125g melted butter
200g soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
150g digestive biscuits, crushed to 'breadcrumbs'
75g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp cinnamon
300g mini marshmallows, white
350g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
250ml double cream
1tsp sea salt flakes

Grease and line a 9" by 13" brownie tray, or use a disposable one.  Preheat the oven to 180C.

Whisk the butter and sugar together until creamy, add the eggs one at a time until everything is incorporated.  Add the flour, baking powder, crushed biscuits and cinnamon, stir to combine.  Pour the batter into your prepared tray and bake for 30 minutes.

To make the ganache melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water below.  Once melted whisk in the cream to make a thick ganache.  Pour over the cooled biscuit base and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes.

Tumble the marshmallows over the ganache liberally, you want the whole thing to be covered in snowy mallows.  Place the tray into a preheated grill for a few minutes, do not take your eyes off your bars as they will burn quickly.  Once the marshmallows have turned golden remove from the grill and allow to cool for 30 minutes.  Chill the bars for 1-2 hours before cutting.

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