Double Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
It is so nice to be baking again. Not for a birthday, event, a request or commission. Just for myself to share with others.
I am quite proud of these brownies as they are the first recipe that I have had the guts to tamper with. Changing recipes for baked goods and puddings is like playing with fire. It is such an exact science. The smallest change in quantities or flavour can have a detrimental effect on the final outcome. I am extremely happy to announce that on this occasion my tampering lead to a huge success!
What was also delightful about these little brownies was the good weather we were graced with on the day I went to photograph them. I took them to my family home in Edinburgh during a mini heat wave. It was blue skies and sunshine all round! It is unbelievable how much easier it is to photograph food when you are outside in the sunshine. I now understand how all my fellow food bloggers who live in sunnier climes are able to achieve such outstanding results. Get the sun on your side and everything just works. It is effortless.
Above all what was such a fitting end to this baking event was that I got to dish ‘em out to my sister Rosie and her pals, Carmel and Jamie. (Carmel is a dedicated follower of the blog and I love her for it! I hope she is pleased as punch to be on here. Rosie has been an absolute hero this year. I couldn’t have graduated with out her!) I served the brownies up along side the loaf posted below. That combined with a healthy amount of Pimms and lemonade, chilling in the garden, and superb banter on a warm evening, made for a delightful trip to the Burg!
Pistachio, Sultana & Lemon Drizzle Loaf
My life for the last few weeks went something along the lines of this…Coursework finished, degree show built, degree done, city night, friends and family night, product design dinner, graduated, family dinner, degree show taken down, moved house, saw family, saw extended South African family, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Hospital, Glasgow, Sleep. To say it has been hectic would be an understatement! But with that little lot out-of-the-way I have FINALLY been able to get back to baking and blogging!
This little nutty summer loaf is perfect for wrapping up in brown paper and taking with you to the park for a spontaneous picnic. Crack open the lemonade and tuck in!
You will need:
150g self-raising flour, sifted
2 eggs, beaten
100g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
150g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 lemons, finely grated zest of 1 and juice of both
75g pistachios, roughly chopped
75g granulated sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking parchment. (I had no idea how big a loaf tin that was, go with large and you will be fine). Beat the butter and caster sugar together until very pale and fluffy.
2. Mix in the eggs and flour. Add the milk and stir in the lemon zest, sultanas and 65g pistachios. Spoon into the tin; bake for 30–35 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
3. Meanwhile, warm the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a pan until the sugar has melted, then set aside
4. When the cake is cooked and still hot, keep it in its tin and prick all over with a skewer, then pour over the lemon mixture. Allow to cool, remove from the tin and scatter with the remaining 10g chopped pistachios.
PD Plus 2010 – Glasgow School of Art Degree Show.
The degree show. The culmination of four long years studying of product design at Glasgow School of Art. An art school wide exhibition showcasing talent from across architecture, design and fine art courses. Product design built our exhibition from scratch. We scrimped, saved, fund-raised and blagged materials from all around Glasgow. Well… the exhibition just wouldn’t be complete unless there was cake!
For City night and friends and family night, I put on a spread of over 200 cupcakes, laid out printed recipe cards and had the blog (in all it’s glory) on display. It was a little bit of shameless plugging for my confection obsession, but I felt that zoemakescakes had to be included as it was such an integral part of my year and has indeed become such an important part of my life!
Obviously it wasn’t all about the cake. The design work of all my class mates and myself was laid bare for all to see. It was only up for a week but if you missed it you can have a look here on the pd plus website.
Last week I was asked to make a cake. All it had to include was a ginger cat and that was that. No particular type, flavour or icing just a ginger kitty. The little guy above was the result. He is atop a two tier chocolate cake made with Green and Blacks cooks chocolate. Insider tip – G&B’s makes anything chocolatey taste a hundred times better.
I was so worried about this cake. It was the first cake I have made that wasn’t just for my friends or family. It was sent out to a birthday party that was held for a friend of a friend of a friend. It actually mattered what it tasted like and it had to turn out perfect. Speak to my flatmate, I was stressing! Thankfully, or, so I hear, it was delicious. What a relief!
I have had a request for my traditional buttercream icing recipe as used on the above cupcake. Being the lovely person that I am, here is an entire post dedicated to it. I am aware that it does include an insane amount of icing sugar, but don’t be put off! It is extremely versatile as you can colour and flavour it until your little heart’s content. This recipe ices 12-15 large cupcakes, 60 mini cupcakes or a large sponge cake. Quality is the key to this recipe so don’t cheap out on the ingredients.
You will need:
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
500g of icing sugar, sifted
Few drops of food colouring (optional)
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth. Use an electric hand mixer to make life so much easier. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
If you want to colour your buttercream, always start with one drop of food colouring and beat thoroughly. This will be all you need to achieve a very pale pastel hue. Add carefully drop by drop, and beat after each addition to build up your desired shade. Feel free to swap vanilla for any other flavour of essence. A teaspoonful will be enough to provide great flavour.
Car boot and bake sale bonanza!
The last two weekends have been filled with mad day long baking sessions all in aid of fundraising for the Product Design degree show aka PDplus. To mark the end of our degree every department in the Art School exhibits their work during a week long exhibition between the 11th until the 18th of June. It is a chance for professionals to come round see how good we all are and snap us up to work for their companies – well, that’s the intention anyway! It is also a chance for our mum, dads, friends and family to see what we have been up to for the last four years. In Product Design we have to build the exhibition space from scratch so we are desperately trying to raise as much dinero as we can to pay for construction materials (timber, paint printing) basically everything we need to put a darn good show together.
Being the baking fiend that I am, the first fundraising task that was set to me was to organise a bake sale. In total three of us spent 10 hours baking chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, banana loaf, Victoria sponge, cut out cookies, marshmallow top hats and rice crispy cakes! I couldn’t have done it without the help of Kirsty Sinclair (who’s kitchen was invaded) and Jen Stewart who I wouldn’t allow to go home until the last cake was iced at 11pm! We rocked up at the Glasgow University library and flogged our wares to stressed out pre and post exam students until the hospitality staff moved us on (apparently we were a threat to their business! The jokers!). If you didn’t catch us out side the library you missed out. Rachel Kerr and Megan Lambie were out and about around campus with cake-laden trays, while Christina Kinnear manned the stall with Kirsty and I. We even hit the art school in the afternoon to sell the remaining baked goods. Made a tidy £120 off the sale. Thank you to everybody who bought cake for a good cause!