Squidgy Chocolate & Pistachio Squares

Chocolate Pistachio Squares

Squidgy little squares of nutty chocolate goodness

Before the age of about fifteen, I don’t think I’d ever made buttercream icing.

I’d eaten it, of course, at friends’ houses and birthday parties, spread over simple sponge cakes and smothered between the rounds of the ubiquitous caterpillar cake (one made an appearance at a 28th birthday we recently  attended, clearly caterpillar cake will never go out of fashion in some circles), but I’m pretty sure I’d never actually made my own buttercream at home.
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Best of 2012 | thelittleloaf

bourke_street_bakery_croissants

A pile of beautiful, buttery croissants

With just a few hours left until the new year, there’s little left to say other than thank you.

Thank you for your comments and support, for continuing to be interested in what I have to say, for reading and sharing my recipes and for sending me your amazing pictures when you make them.

Rather than posting anything new today, I’ve included a round up of your five favourite (by page views) little loaf recipes from the past year, followed by five of mine.

2012 has been incredible. Here’s to an even more amazing 2013. Continue reading

Double Chocolate Lamingtons

Lamingtons

Moist chocolate sponge cloaked in chocolate & rolled in coconut

Saying goodbye can be hard. Any way in which the blow can be softened – if only by butter, chocolate and sugar – has got to be better than nothing.

On Saturday two of our friends threw a leaving party. At the end of December they leave for Australia where they plan to spend year at absolute minimum, more likely two with very little likelihood that they’ll make it back for our wedding next summer. Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

chocolate peanut butter cake

Squidgy chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting

David Lebovitz once said that the best thing about being a pastry chef is that your kitchen colleagues have to be nice to you 364 days a year. Why? Because on the 365th they want you to bake them a birthday cake. While I’m no pastry chef and have never worked in a commercial kitchen, when it comes to baking cakes for friends, I know exactly where he’s coming from.

One of the things I love most about baking is being able to share what I make with those around me. A cake can be a talking point, a celebration in itself and (for me anyway) often a better way of expressing love for the person in question than any other present might be. Birthday cakes are particularly personal, the one opportunity each year to take centre stage, to call the shots, to cut yourself the biggest slice, eat seconds and thirds and lick off extra icing if you should so choose (not, of course, that I’d ever do something like that . . .) Continue reading

Sticky Cider Pecan Cakes with Cinnamon Ice Cream & Salted Caramel

ginger cupcakes

How to turn a cupcake into something just that little bit more special.

  1. Bake it straight into a non-stick muffin pan for contrast between the outer edge and fluffy middle
  2. Cram it full of crunchy pecans, fiery ginger, a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of cider
  3. Smother it in sticky caramel sauce, lifted with a generous sprinkle of sea salt
  4. Give it the dignity of calling it a little cake, not a cupcake

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Chocolate Whiskey Layer Cake

chocolate cake

Rich chocolate sponge, condensed milk & whiskey buttercream, chocolate ganache

We’ve just got back from two days in the beautiful county of Rutland celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday. With the recent bout of unexpected and unseasonally warm weather, he couldn’t have picked a better weekend for us to spend outside and out of London (or Leeds, where he lives), enjoying each others’ company, soaking up some sunshine and drinking in the country air.

I don’t really need to tell you that I offered to bring a birthday cake. That goes without saying and is pretty much what you’ve been waiting for, right? Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

peanut butter mousse cake

Chocolate mousse. Two words, a hundred variations, a thousand different expectations.

Ever since I made this favourite little dessert on holiday in Italy, I’ve wanted to write about it on the blog. My usual recipe for chocolate mousse is simplicity itself, rich and elegant, steeped in childhood memories and consisting of just two ingredients: chocolate and eggs. It’s the ultimate store cupboard recipe (don’t tell me you’ve not got chocolate on your shelves, I don’t believe you), and involves minimum effort for maximum impact, making it an easy go-to recipe to have in your repertoire.

Perhaps a little too easy. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea Cupcakes {Cucumber + Champagne}

champagne cupcakes

A simple cupcake with a hidden core of refreshing cucumber jam

There are few things more British than a cucumber sandwich. Simple and delicate (and delicious when made properly – think paper-thin cucumber, salty butter, soft white bread), this recipe of aristocratic origin is made all the better for being absolutely unnecessary. Traditionally served at tea-time (our way of justifying the indulgence of an additional mid-afternoon meal involving a lot of cake) they have next to no nutritional value, being probably the only sandwich in the world over which I wouldn’t shed a tear to see the crusts removed. But they are a delicious nonetheless, especially when accompanied by freshly-baked scones a glass of cold champagne. Continue reading

Pistachio & Lemon (Little) Loaf Cakes

little loaf cake

The dense, damp, syrupy crumb makes this cake utterly irresistible

This might just be one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten.

Those of you who read this blog on regular basis will know that this is not a comment to be taken lightly. I love cake. I eat it a lot. I live and breathe baking.  On our recent holiday in Italy in a round of Articulate the clue ‘Kate loves this’ resulted in an immediate and resounding chorus of ‘cake’, and change one letter in my name and I’d practically be named after the stuff. Cake is very important to me.

Pretty much every year I make my own birthday cake. Before you start feeling sorry for me, it’s absolutely out of choice. I love doing it; the magic of mixing together ingredients, transforming flour, butter and sugar into something that looks and tastes delicious, experimenting in the kitchen, sharing my birthday joy with friends and family and condensing it into a single slice.

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Malted Chocolate Layer Cake

chocolate_cake

Moist chocolate cake layered with rich malted chocolate buttercream

One of the questions I’m most often asked about this blog is where I get my love of food and baking from. My first point of reference is almost always my parents – a childhood where helping my Mum out in the kitchen and making my own birthday cakes was the norm, every summer spent in Italy amongst an abundance of incredible produce and a father whose eyes are a whole lot smaller than the stomach which unfortunately reflects his infectious love of food (sorry Dad!). Continue reading