Check patterned sponge cake

This cake was fairly simple to make and you could use any flavour. I used sponge and chocolate sponge. You need two layers of each. It works best if they are contrasting colours.

I used a simple sponge recipe by weighing 3 eggs and then using the same amount of flour, butter and sugar. I used half ehite and half light brown sugar in my white sponge. In the chocolate one I used half dark brown sugar and half white. I also used 1/8 cup strong coffee made up and subbed 1/3 of the flour for cocia powder. In both cakes I added 3 tablespoons of 0% greek yogurt for extra moistness (I prefer buttermilk but I didn’t have any and I don’t find the homemade version works as well). 

Cut any domes off the top of each cake.

Then all you have to do is use a large circle cookie cutter (or a paper guide and a knife) and a small cookie cutter and layer them together, alternating each colour. Spread buttercream between each layer. 

I covered mine with buttercream and used it as an excuse to try out some icing effects with limited success! The check pattern turned out well though. 

The only thing I would do differently is place a little thinned buttercream between each circle of cake as it didn’t hold together particularly well when cut. 

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Pulled slow cooker chicken in bbq sauce

This sticky, tomatoey pulled chicken is delicious and far healthier than the pork version. I use chicken breast for mine to cut some of the fat but I’m sure thigh or drummers would work well too.

This is so easy. Just chuck all the ingredients below into your slow cooker and stir. Add the chicken and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8. I like to cook this on high as it helps it reduce down (sometimes).

These are the ingredients I use but vary it to suit your own taste. I am intollerant to chilli and too much garlic or onion but feel free to add these to yours!

1 can chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Squeeze of tomato ketchup

Squeeze of brown sauce

Squeeze of tomato puree

Teaspoon of paprika

Pinch of pepper and salt

Teaspoon of stock

1/4 can of hot water

Teapoon ginger

Teaspoon mustard

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons maple syrup

3-4 chicken breasts

After leaving it to cook take each chicken breast out one by one and pull apart with two forks. If it is ready, it will do this easily.

Once each breast is in bits, return it to the slow cooker and get the next until they are all shredded.

Sometimes I find it will reduce down itself but other times it is too watery.To help this I add a teaspoon of arrowroot mixed with some sauce to help it thicken.

If it is still too watery, use a large spoon to syphon off some liquid into a small pan. 

Bring this to a rolling boil on high stirring occasionally but watching to check it doesn’t burn. 

When it has reduced down a lot, return it to the slow cooker and stir. Repeat if necessary.
After this taste to check you are happy. Sometimes I add a teaspoon or two of shop bought bbq sauce to help the flavour.

We serve ours with jacket potatoes or sweet potato jackets and Mediterranean roasted veg. 

Yum!

Healthy(ish) Chocolate cupcakes

These yummy cupcakes contain no refined sugar (except the teeny bit in the chocolate) and are full of ingredients that actually do you good. I measured them out into my fitness pal and they are about 180 cals in small cupcake cases. 
The base for these was this recipe http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/06/26/double-chocolate-zucchini-bread/ which us an excellent recipe well worth making but I made a few tweaks to lighten them up.

They are fudgey and moist but don’t have the extreme sweetness of normal cupcakes.

Ingredients:

Dry: 

35g wholemeal flour

40g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8tsp salt

50g – 85% cocoa (or higher) chocolate chopped into chunks

Wet ingredients:

1 large egg

45g greek yogurt

150g courgette grated finely

1tsp vanilla

30ml rapeseed oil

25ml maple syrup

25ml honey

1/2 tsp instant coffee made with 2 tablespoon of water

Method:

1) First, grate the courgette and spread a kitchen towel on a plate. Sprwad out the courgette on the towel and place another towel on top. Press down and leave until needed to remove some of the moisture.

2) Next, sift dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk together.

3) Then, in a small bowl or jug, whisk the wet ingredients (not the courgette) together well. 

4) After that, pour the wet ingreduents gradually into the dry and mix.

5) Finally, fold in the courgette with a spoon.

6) Spoon into small cupcake cases and bake 177C for 15mins ir until a knife comes out clean.

For the icing:
125g Philadelphia lightest

10g cocoa powder

10ml maple syrup 

5ml sweet freedom syrup

With a hand or stand mixer whip together (I use a paddle attachment) the Philadelphia and cocoa adding the maple and syrup to taste. If it is not thick enough add a little more cocoa. Then spread or pipe onto the cupcakes.

Enjoy!