Sunday, September 25, 2011


Here in blogland we have a very significant event approaching, Chele's and Choclette's baby has reached the ripe old age of ONE! Yes, the wonderful We Should Cocoa has come of age - not bad when they have to decide on different ingredients to challenge us to team up with chocolate every month - some have been more difficult than others (you know what they were Choclette!!!!!). 

This month Chele has asked us to bake something for the birthday celebration, and what could Brownieville Girl bake but some brownies - these were my maiden voyage in my new oven - and I probably underestimated the amount of  time they needed - the center was maybe a teeny weeny bit too squidgy - but that said they were just delicious.

Walnut Brownies
adapted from Rachel Allen's BAKE

175g               70% Cocoa Chocolate
175g               Butter cubed
25g                 Good Cocoa Powder sifted
3                     large eggs
1 tsp               vanilla extract
225g               light brown sugar
100g               plain flour, sifted
50g                 walnuts - to place on each brownie

Preheat oven to 180 C
Line a 20cm x 20cm tin with parchment paper

Melt the chocolate, butter and cocoa powder together in a bowl over simmering water.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract for at least 2 minutes, while still whipping add the chocolate mixture and continue to whisk until combined.
Add the flour and fold through with a metal spoon.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and place the walnuts on top.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until dry on top but still slightly fudgy in the middle.
Remove from the tin and allow to cool in the tin.
When cool cut into squares and serve.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


For the final bake from Lauren Chattman's "Cake keeper Cakes"  The Cake Slice Bakers have decided to each bake a cake that we have been drooling over during the past year of baking from the book.  I have to admit that I'm not too sorry to be moving onto another book - although there were some gems in there (particularly the Cranberry Cake) but I actually think that every cake in a recipe book should be delicious, and more importantly (because we all have different tastes) well tested - in different types of ovens by different people - I think that that's what you are paying for when you buy a book, testing, testing and then some more testing.

O.K. I'll get off my high horse now and tell you which cake I decided to go with, there were a number in contention - Espresso-Hazelnut Bundt Cake, Mississippi Mud Cake with Espresso-Bourbon Glaze and Peanut Butter and Jelly Crumb Cake to name a few - but I went with Nutella Swirl Pound Cake (with a bit of encouragement from my Nutella mad son!!!).

This cake has good and bad points - the bad point became very obvious when I took out a knife to cut it - the knife went so far and no further - I had to take out the big guns (!) to make it the whole way thought.  The Nutella had sunk towards the bottom (as it does in the photo in the book) and hardened - really hardened!  I know that I'm still on a learning curve with my new oven but I don't know what I could have done to prevent this happening - I wonder if I used about half the quantity of Nutella and put tiny amounts through the batter?

As for the good points - this cake is delicious, worth the risk to your dentistry!!! The texture of the cake part is perfect and it tastes buttery and scrumptious - well worth playing around with.

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

4                  large eggs
2 tsp            vanilla extract
1.5 cups       plain flour
3/4 tsp         baking powder
1/4 tsp         salt
1 cup (8oz)  softened butter
1 400g jar     Nutella

Preheat oven to 180 C
Line a 9"x5" loaf tin with parchment paper

Combine the eggs and vanilla and beat lightly.
In a separate bowl sift in the flour baking powder and salt.
In another bowl beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, remembering to scrape down the sides regularly.
Add the egg slowly whilst the beater is running at medium-slow speed.
Turn the beater down to slow and add the flour slowly a 1/2 cup at a time.
Scrape 1/3 of the mixture into your prepared tin, then 1/2 the Nutella, followed by another 1/3 of the cake mixture then the other 1/2 of the Nutella and finally the remaining 1/3 of the mixture. Run a knife blade through the batter to create marbling.
Bake the cake until golden and a skewer comes out clean - about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.
After this time all it to cool completely on a wire rack.
Slice (with a good knife!!) and serve.


If you are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers have a look at Katie at Apple and Spice for all the details.

I would like to thank you all for your beautiful and kind comments on my last post - I cannot tell you how much I appreciate them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


It's been six months, six long, slow, heavy months since my sister, friend, confidant, rock, comrade-in-arms, died.  Six months when every little thing takes twice the energy it used to.  Six months when sometimes I catch myself laughing, and I wonder why and how.  Six months when sadness is my constant companion.

But it has also been six months when my relationship with her children has blossomed - I love those kids with all my heart.  Their successes are mine too, they make me so proud, they are beyond wonderful.

It has also been six months of getting to know my sister's dear friends,  they say that you get the friends you deserve, and in my sister's case this is certainly true.  Her friends are wonderful, kind and good people (and great craic too!!).  Sadly Pauline has had to head back to the States, we miss her kind and strong presence, her stories of my sister when she lived in New York, her companionship and understanding, her cooking!!  Clare has been my rock, she has helped from the very beginning in the most practical ways, she sees something that needs to be done, and just does it - no questions asked, no praise looked for. And finally Fiona who gave my sister such joy, (she would return from coffee with Fiona and regale me with all the funny anecdotes - for hours!!!).  Fiona brings a wave of good will with her wherever she goes, she is a powerhouse of enthusiasm and kindness, she has enveloped my niece and nephews in her warmth and love, she has brought my sister's fun side back into their lives.

The  Random Bakes Of Kindness from my last post reminded me of all the people to whom I owe so much gratitude.  I want to take this opportunity to say thanks a million to you all, and particularly to Clare and Fiona.

To Fiona, thank you, thank you for giving them a wonderful holiday, a fun filled time when they were too busy to be sad.  Thank you for sharing your beautiful daughter, giving my precious Princess a much needed older sister.  Thank you for cheering us up, time and time again.  Thank you for showering the Princess with kindness (!).  Thank you for seeing each child's individual strengths and fostering them.  Thank you for your time, for M's time and for bringing C into my life.  Thank you for the coffee mornings - our chance to regroup, to reminisce, to chat, to organise.  Thank you for being there - always.

To Clare, thank you for your support, your hugs (you give the best hugs!), your understanding, your always being on my side.  Thank you for all your hospitality to the kids - they always return from your home snuggled in your love and caring - and that bit happier.  Thank you for your generosity in everything you do.  Thank you for washing away our anguish (!).  Thank you for sharing your (gorgeous) family, your energy, your enthusiasm, your hard work, your warmth.  Thank you too for our coffee mornings - you know how much they mean to both myself and Mum.

These women deserve so much more than cake - but it's a start!!! 

We are meeting to reminisce and cry and laugh today, and I am bringing some muffins along.  September is not just back to school time, but also back to some sort of eating properly time - slimming clubs have more start-ups in September than in January.  With this in mind I borrowed Rits's Applesauce Muffin Recipe, (made a few very small changes) cooked up a batch, and am bringing them along.  Some guilt free treats for some people who need cheering up.

Rita's Applesauce Oat Muffins

1 cup                   oats
1 cup                   skimmed milk
1 cup                   whole wheat flour
1/2 cup                brown sugar*
1/2 cup                applesauce (I made this with 3 small apples a tsp cinnamon and a tiny amount of water)
2                          egg whites
2 tsp                    baking powder
1/2 tsp                 bread (bicarbonate of) soda
1/2 tsp                 salt
1                         curly wurly bar (similar to heath bar)
2 tsp                   cinnamon
1 tsp                   sugar

Makes 12 muffins

Soak oats in the milk for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180 C
Line muffin tins
Combine the oat mixture with the applesauce and egg whites and mix.
In a seperate bowl measure out the dry ingredients (including 1 tsp cinnamon) and mix.
Chop up the curly wurly bar and add to the bowl.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine - without mixing too much to avoide tough muffins.
Spoon into the prepared muffin cases.

Combine one spoon of sugar with a spoon of cinnamon and scatter ofver the muffins before you pop them into the oven (I forgot this part - but won't next time!)

Bake the muffins for 17 - 25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the pan and cool.

*To make these even more healthy - next time I think I'll add a super ripe banana instead of the sugar.

These muffins - while not the prettiest to come out of my oven are really tasty and well worth a go.  Thanks Rita at Sage Cuisine.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


It's back to school time here in Ireland - and it made me think "who dreads going back more - the kids or the teachers??"  At least the kids have all their friends to sweeten the pill, but the poor teachers, back to the grindstone after 2/3 months of freedom!!!!

Vanessa has introduced a wonderful new challenge called Random Bakes Of Kindness (what a genius idea!) whereby you gift a batch of your baked beauties (!) to someone who goes the extra mile in your life.  I decided the the teachers at my niece and nephew's school would be the ideal recipients for a "first day back at school cheer me up" - they have been so good to the kids over the past few months, keeping their school lives as even and calm as possible.  Who better to receive an injection of sugar (and thanks) with their morning coffee.

I was up with the birds on the day they were going back, and so decided to whip up Coby's Banana and Yogurt Muffins - Coby has a fantastic blog (which she shares with a great group of bloggers) you'll be delighted when you visit - it's a font of ideas and mouth watering recipes and photos, but most of all it's a beautifully written blog - you share in all their lives.  I whipped up the muffins when I got up, and they were still warm when I popped them into a tin for the kids to bring to school.  Brownieville Princess and Boy #4 weren't too anxious to bring in the gift, so I dropped it into the office on my way out - and seemingly they went down a storm - some warm, fairly low fat goodies on the first day back to school - I hope they brought a few smiles to the staff room!!

The recipe is over on The Clayton's Blog - the only change I made was to use peach instead of passionfruit yoghurt, and sunflower instead of olive oil, they were light, fluffy and brim full of flavour.

Thanks a million to Vanessa for this excellent idea - it is really good to spend time thinking of all the people in your life that you need to be grateful to - there are so many.