What’s In The Box? Pumpkin Cake Kit Review

The other day I spotted this particular cake mix whilst I was doing the weekly shop and decided to give it a go. I love all the seasonal themed bakes you can make at this time of year, and whilst they never quite turn out as intended when I attempt them, I can never resist trying it for myself.

As this is a ready-made cake kit, I’ve decided to do more of a review rather than a recipe for people to follow, so you get an idea of what to expect before you buy one. If you like this idea, then please let me know in the comments!

Brand: Tesco (Product Details)
Makes: 1 Cake
What You Get: Cardboard Background, Plastic Basin, Chocolate Cake Mix, Orange Flavoured Icing Mix, Orange Sugar Paste & Black Writing Icing
What You Need: 1 Medium Egg, Vegetable Oil, Milk, Butter & Icing Sugar

First you empty the sachet of chocolate cake mix into a mixing bowl, add the egg, 50ml vegetable oil and 50ml milk. Mix the ingredients well for 2 minutes. Then measure 10ml vegetable oil into the plastic basin provided and use a pastry brush to thoroughly coat the inside of the basin and lid. Leave any excess oil inside the basin.

Next pour the chocolate mixture into the basin, place the lid loosely on top (don’t clip it down) and cook in the microwave for 3 – 4 minutes depending on the power of your microwave. Let the basin stand for 1 minute before removing the lid. Tip the basin upside down onto a flat surface covered with baking paper and lift it off from the sponge.

Once the sponge has cooled, cut the cake horizontally so you have a top and bottom. Then empty the orange icing mix into a bowl, add 50g butter and 5ml milk. Mix the ingredients well until you have a smooth paste. Use a pallet knife to spread a layer of icing onto the bottom half of the cake and then put the top back on. Then use the remaining icing to completely cover the outside of the cake. Remove the sugar paste from the packet and kneed it until soft. Dust a flat surface with icing sugar and roll out the paste until you have a circle large enough to cover the cake.

Cover the cake with the orange sugar paste and smooth it over. Trim any excess from the base of the cake and using the back of a knife, mark vertical lines around the cake to create a pumpkin design. Then use the black writing icing to draw the eyes, nose and mouth. Finally assemble the cardboard background to place your cake on.

So there you have it, one chocolate orange pumpkin cake! This was the first time I’ve ever baked a cake in a microwave and I have to admit I wasn’t overwhelmed with the results. Mine decided to explode a bit as you can see, and personally I think leaving the excess oil in the basin made the sponge too greasy my liking… you may have better luck than me however! I would avoid microwave kits in the future if I possible, but it was still fun to bake and I’m quite pleased with the end result… overall I would give it 3/5.

Christmas Cake Recipe

My mum is a whizz in the kitchen (unlike myself who is generally a disaster when it comes to anything more complicated than a cupcake) and every year she makes a Christmas cake… each time with a slightly different recipe. This year we tried the following:

  • 1kg Mixed Dried Fruit & Glacé Cherries
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Orange
  • 150ml Sherry
  • 250g Butter
  • 200g Brown Sugar
  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 100g Ground Almond
  • 100g Flaked Almonds
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Large Eggs

First pre-heat the oven to 150°C and cut out two sheets of baking paper to double line your cake tin. Then cut out two layers of newspaper to wrap around the outside of the tin and secure with string to prevent the cake from burning.

Zest and juice the orange and lemon, measure out the dried fruit, cherries, sherry, butter, sugar and almonds and add to a large pan. Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes and leave to cool.

Once the mixture is cool, measure out the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, cloves and vanilla extract and eggs. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture evenly into the cake tin and bake for 2 hours.

Leave the cake to cool and then wrap in tin foil and place in an airtight container. Every fortnight, unwrap and feed the cake with 2 tbsp of sherry until you are ready to ice it.

Rock Cake Recipe

The other day, I REALLY wanted some Rock Cakes. My grandma used to make wonderful ones, but sadly I never got around to asking her for the recipe. So I went in search for the recipe online.

I had no idea there were so many different variations! It’s impossible to know which one she followed, so I took my favourite ingredients from several that I found and went with that.

As usual my “Kitchen Experiment” gave me some interesting results. The first batch were far too sticky, the second batch I forgot to set the timer and ended up with a pile of incinerated blobs (whooops) and the third were too runny! I decided to try one last time before giving up… thankfully this time it worked!

The recipe I used in the end was as follows:

  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 75g Butter
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 115g Currents
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 tbsp Milk

First pre-heat the oven to 200°C and cut out a sheet of baking paper to fit your baking tray.

Measure out the flour and baking powder, add to a bowl and then add the butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour as much as possible until it looks like breadcrumbs.

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Next measure out the sugar, currents and mixed spice and add them to the flour mixture. Then break the egg into a separate bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the milk to the egg and pour into the flour and current mixture.

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Using a spoon, mix all the ingredients together to create a stiff dough. Divide the dough into several heaps onto the baking try, ensuring they are spaced well apart.

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Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

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Writing this has made me want to make some more, hopefully with less disasters this time! If anyone has a different recipe for rock cakes, please do let me know, I’d love to try it!

Pumpkin Pies, Advent Calendars and other Christmas Crafts

December is here, which means I’ve been busy baking gingerbread cupcakes, cross-stitching Christmas cards, working on a wooden Christmas tree and making a dark chocolate Advent Calendar (which you can find out how to make here) among other things!

Another thing I attempted was pumpkin pie which I’ve always wanted to try, so mum and I decided to have a go at the recipe. We had to convert most of the measurements and use a little bit of guess work, but we ended up with a really nice pie at the end of it. The ingredients we used were:

  • 1 x 8 inch sweet pastry case
  • 2 x eggs
  • 1 x can of pumpkin purée
  • 170g of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 pint evaporated milk

First, Pre-heat your oven and mix the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves together in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat your eggs and stir in the pumpkin purée and then add in the mixed spices.

Gradually add in the evaporated milk, continue to stir until all of the ingredients have been fully mixed together, then pour the mixture into the pastry case.

Bake the pie at 220°C for 15 minutes and then lower to 175°C and bake for a further 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife in the centre comes out clean.

Leave the pie to cool and then refrigerate until required. Serve the pie with whipped cream.