Don’t break the mould
Silicone bakeware – brightly coloured, supple kitchenware – has become very popular. It is possible to buy a full set of cake pans, muffin pans, bundt tins and every style of decorative mould imaginable. I avoided silicone for a time after a few harem scarem experiences transporting heavy batters from a work surface to the oven. Of course, once you get used to the requirement for a baking sheet underneath to avoid spillages, it becomes child’s play.
Many chefs I know use silicone daily in patisseries, bakeries and other professional kitchens. I decided to give them another go.
They are lightweight, flexible and inexpensive, and their main appeal for me is that bakes simply pop out naturally. However, most bakers agree that silicone is not great for large bakes, as the lack of rigidity can bend large cakes and cause them to crack. For cookies with a crisp bottom, I still prefer to use standard metal baking sheets. It is perfectly possible to grease, flour and paper line most bakes to avoid sticking.
For me silicone moulds work best for small delicacies such as these 3cm x 8cm mini cake/ loaf moulds ( they come in a tray of nine moulds). One tray is sufficient, as the cake batter will sit once made, so you can refill the mould with leftover batter. I love the way the batter rises into uniform bars that don’t stick to the sides. The rectangular shape means the mould is also usable for chilled savoury and other sweets.
If you prefer to stick to your standard bakeware, this chocolate cake recipe can be baked in a square cake tin ( it will need to be baked for 40 minutes). Then smaller bars can be cut using a serrated knife to give a similar effect.
At this time of year I always enjoy putting that little bit of extra time into jazzing up my bakes. Sugared rose petals are not for everyone, but I couldn’t resist buying a small bag of fragrant pink petals at a food market. In this recipe I used a mixture of chopped rose petals, nuts and a little Crunchie bar dust to give a festive feel, but a single sprinkling of any of them would suffice.
These pretty chocolate cake bars are perfect for passing around at teatime or can be served as a dessert with some ice cream or cream. You can fill the bars with any jam or curd of your choice, but apricot jam is really delicious. Nuts Rose petals Crunchie Mint leaves