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Recipe: Halloween Baking Challenge

Witches’ Brew

Things got seriously competitive in the office when we challenged our staff to bake some scarily scrumptious treats in preparation for Halloween. There was only one rule: each bone-rattling recipe had to include one Whittard product. Cauldrons at the ready…

Rosie (Designer): Pumpkin Spice Cake

pumpkin_spice_cake

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

  • 425g/1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 425g soft light brown sugar
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 600g plain flour
  • 3tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 4tbsp Pumpkin Spice loose leaf tea

For the syrup:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1tbsp Pumpkin Spice loose leaf tea

For the buttercream:

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 150g soft unsalted butter
  • 300g cream cheese
  • 3-4 tbsp Pumpkin Spice syrup (see above)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4). Grease four identical cake tins (c. 9” diameter) with butter and line the base of the tins with greaseproof paper.

Melt the butter over a low heat and add the tea leaves. Steep the tea in the butter for 2 minutes, with the butter lightly simmering but not burning. Strain the tea out of the butter and put the butter aside until it cools; then mix it with the oil and sugar. Add the eggs and mix more while scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl until well combined. Beat the pumpkin puree into the wet cake mix, then fold in the dry flour mix.

Divide the batter between the 4 tins, creating a small dip in the centre of each mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

For the syrup, add the water, sugar and tea to a pan and bring to the boil for about 5 minutes until the liquid thickens to a syrup. Strain and discard the tea leaves.

For the buttercream, beat the unsalted butter until softened and add the cream cheese. Sift in the icing sugar and add a few spoonfuls of the Pumpkin Spice syrup. Mix until smooth.

To begin assembling the cake, level out the sponges, ensuring that the top of each layer is flat. Poke holes into each layer with a skewer and brush on the Pumpkin Spice syrup sparingly, before evenly spreading a few dollops of buttercream over each layer. (There will probably be some left over.) Assemble the layers on top of one another, then cover the whole cake in the buttercream with a palette knife and decorate as desired.

Hanna (Customer Services): Salted Caramel Coffee Cake

salted_caramel_coffee_cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 150g butter
  • 7tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2tbsp whole coffee beans
  • A splash of vanilla essence
  • 100ml cold, strong Salted Caramel flavour coffee
  • 100g flour

For decoration:

Method:

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease and line a baking tin.

Melt the butter, then mix it with the cocoa powder. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl until fluffy.

Crush the coffee beans with a mortar and pestle. Combine with the other ingredients in a large bowl, then transfer to the baking tin and bake for 20 minutes. Decorate with the coffee beans and melted chocolate as desired.

Sheila (E-Commerce Executive): Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Brownies

salted_caramel_brownies

Ingredients:

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 100g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 100g chocolate (50% cocoa solids)
  • 400g can of caramel
  • 170g golden caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs (at room temperature)
  • 130g plan flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 30g Salted Caramel flavour hot chocolate powder
  • 30g sweet and salty popcorn

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C (fan)/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 23cm square baking tin.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized pan, then break all the chocolate into the pan, remove from the heat and wait for the chocolate to melt.

In a small bowl, mix 175g of the caramel with 1 teaspoon of sea salt (this will loosen up the caramel). Add the rest of the caramel to a large bowl with the sugar and eggs, then beat with an electric hand-mixer or balloon whisk until even. Whisk in the chocolate and butter.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and hot chocolate powder with a good pinch of table salt, then sift this on top of the chocolate mix. Beat briefly until smooth.

Pour half of the batter into the tin and level it with a spatula. Using a teaspoon, spoon half of the salted caramel on top of the batter layer in five thick, evenly spaced stripes. Spoon the rest of the batter on top and smooth it out, trying not to disturb the caramel beneath.

Scatter with a little more sea salt, then bake for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies have risen all the way to the centre and have a firm crust on top. (They should jiggle just a little when you shake the tin.) Leave to cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.

To decorate, mix the remaining salted caramel with the popcorn and place on top of the brownie squares.

Lauren (Covent Garden): Vegan Lemon & Mandarin Puerh Cake

vegan_lemon_mandarin_cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 230g plain gluten-free flour
  • 20g gram flour
  • 2¼tsp baking powder
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 170g granulated cane sugar
  • 85ml olive oil
  • 265ml organic soy milk
  • 1tbsp Puerh Mandarin loose leaf tea
  • 65ml lemon juice
  • Zest of 2 lemons

For the icing:

Method:

Heat the milk to 75°C, and add a tablespoon of Mandarin Puerh. Leave to infuse for one hour, then strain, discard the tea, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 160°C, and grease and line a loaf tin.

Weight the flours, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest, oil and sugar to the tea-infused milk and whisk until incorporated. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until just combined (but taking care not to over-mix). Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.

For the icing, infuse the milk with a teaspoon of Mandarin Puerh as above, but this time infuse for 3 minutes before straining. Add to a blender with the sugar, butter and orange zest, then blend until smooth. When the cake has cooled decorate it with the icing as desired.

Lucy (Partnerships Executive): Bourbon Espresso Chocolate Cake

bourbon_espresso_coffee_cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 400g caster sugar
  • 275g flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1½tsp baking powder
  • 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 100g melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 250ml freshly brewed Bourbon Espresso coffee

For the frosting:

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then pour into the dry and mix until combined.

Divide the batter between the two cake tins, then bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. (Don’t worry if the cakes sink a little in the centre.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until light and flurry (around 4-5 minutes), then add the sifted cocoa powder and icing sugar. Beat for another 2 minutes, until combined.

Turn on the blender. Slowly pour in the chocolate and mix well, then add the espresso coffee one tablespoon at a time, mixing until you have glossy buttercream.

When the cakes are cool, spread one layer with buttercream and stack the other on top – you can also carefully slice each layer horizontally to create a four-layer cake. Cover with the remaining buttercream and top with chocolate coated espresso beans.

Ebru (Social Media Executive): Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Peanut_Butter_Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 200g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3tbsp Peanut Butter flavour hot chocolate
  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
  • 300g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder

For the icing:

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C (fan)/Gas 4. Grease and line two 22cm round cake tins.

Put the Peanut Butter hot chocolate in a small bowl, adding 100ml hot water. Whisk together until smooth, then set aside. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and melt gently together, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs together using an electric whisk until thick and pale. With the blades still running, pour in the butter mixture, mixing until smooth and fully combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder, then sift over the chocolate mixture and fold together until no lumps remain. Add the hot chocolate mixture and mix to combine.

Divide the batter between your prepared tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack, peeling off the parchment and leaving them to cool completely.

For the icing, beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric whisk until light and creamy. Beat in the icing sugar a little at a time, then add the peanut butter, mixing until smooth. Mix the Peanut Butter hot chocolate powder with the milk and add to the mixture. Add a pinch of salt and the cream, then mix until smooth.

Begin assembling the cake by using a large serrated knife to slice each cake in half horizontally. Place the first layer onto a cake board or serving plate and top with a thin layer of icing. Place the second layer on top and top with icing; repeat until all layers have been used. Decorate the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing as desired.

Steve (Manchester) Salted Caramel Cake

Salted Caramel cake

Ingredients:

Cake

Frosting

Method

Pre heat oven to 170°C non fan 

Mix the sugar and butter in food mixer until soft and creamy

Add 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of flour to the butter and sugar and mix together (repeat until all 4 eggs are combine)

Add remaining flour and mix

Add the chocolate into a mug and add 1 tablespoon of boiling hot water to make a thick paste (add more water if needed but not too watety). When mixed add to the cake better and mix until thoroughly blended.

Line 2 7" cake tins with baking paper and divide mixture between the tins.

Bake in oven for 35 mins or until cooked

Once cooked remove from oven and tins. Remove the paper and allow to cool

To make the frosting, add butter and icing sugar in a  food mixer and mix thoroughly. The mix will be very thick but don't worry

Add the coffee to icing mix a tablespoon at a time until it is a smooth spreadable mix.

Add 1/3 of the mix to the cooked cakes to make a sandwich.  With a palet knife smooth the edges and fill any gaps. Put in fridge to cool

Add orange food colouring to the remaining icing and mix well

Add the orange icing to the top and sides of the cake and smooth with a palet knife

Melt the chocolate and green food colouring together in a bowl over a pan of simmering hot water. Once melted set aside to cool.

While runny but cool add to the top of the cake and gently let run down the sides.

Decorate as desired. 

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