Category Archives: cake

Intensely lemon cake

Intensely lemon cake

This cake is an adaptation of Claudia Roden’s Orange and almond cake. I was asked if I could bake a lemon drizzle cake that was lemony and not too sweet for an upcoming course.   I have been meaning to try Roden’s recipe with lemons instead of the oranges ever since I first made the orange version years ago. This was my opportunity.

It certainly lives up to its intensely lemon moniker.  It is like eating a bit of (tart!) sunshine. The colour of this cake is also intensely yellow, although I think that is due to the eggs being laid by our own chickens who generally roam free and eat a diet of maize, oats, sunflower seeds, anything they might find on the ground and vegetable kitchen scraps (and bread, lots of bread – they now look at me in disgust “What, bread again?”).

It is gluten-free if you make sure you get the GF baking powder. I suggest that you buy the whole, blanched almonds and grind them up in a food processor if you have one. This means that you get some superfine crumbs of almond, like flour in texture, along with some knobbly bits. This adds a wonderful texture to the cake that is more interesting to eat. The almonds also taste fresher when freshly ground.

I added a drizzle to the cake as soon as it came out of the oven to add another level of zinginess but if you want a more toned down lemonyness then feel free to  ignore this last step.

The top of this cake is a tad overcooked, I wasn’t being diligent enough and had gone off to so something else whilst it baked, but actually the contrast is rather stunning both visually and in taste.

If you like your lemon cakes to have a punch to them then I urge you to try this recipe, with the drizzle. Let me know what you think.

2 lemons
6 eggs
200g caster sugar
250g ground almonds (grind whole blanched almonds yourself if you can)
1 tsp baking powder

For the drizzle
Juice of 1 lemon (you can add the zest too if you like)
50g caster sugar

Method
Place the lemons in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender and soft (can take two hours). I pop mine in the simmering oven of the Aga. Drain and leave the lemons until cool enough to handle.

Preheat your oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the lowest shelf in the baking oven of the four-oven Aga. Line a 23cm round spring-form cake tin.

Take off any green end bits off the lemons (no idea what they are called), cut in half and take out any seeds. Place in a food processor and whizz until finely pureed. If you don’t have a food processor then chop away until the lemon is finely minced, catching any juices.

Whisk the eggs until slightly thickened and then add the sugar gradually whisking all the time and continue to whisk until the mixture is light and mousse-like. Fold in the almonds, baking powder and lemons. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until it starts to shrink slightly away from the sides.

Just before the cake is cooked mix the sugar with the lemon juice. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven make holes all over the cake with a skewer and spoon the sugar and lemon mixture all over the surface of the cake. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.

This cake keeps for several days,  if it isn’t eaten in one sitting.

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Simnel cupcakes

simnel cupcakes

This is another post that sees me preparing for my Easter baking course. Veg Patch Kitchen keeps me busy and I rarely get the time to bake for pleasure these days. If I am making cakes they are very likely to be for a course and are being made along with lunch items and I don’t have the time to experiment with a new recipe or post it here.  Recipe development for the courses are a different matter though. They are researched and tested ahead of time so I know that we will be able to recreate them with success during the class and they give me an opportunity to still post here.  This blog has given me pleasure, inspiration and returned my lost confidence to me many times over the last nine years and I don’t want to stop posting here when I get the opportunity. So apologies again for thinking of Easter when we haven’t left January yet.

These little morsels of deliciousness will be made by students on my Easter baking course, along with Greek Tsoureki, hot cross buns and, if we get time, Easter biscuits (aka poorly biscuits in this house).

I adore marzipan, and so do my girls. They make it just to eat, and if they can be bothered with the tiny extra effort they will cut them into animal shapes or make them into marzipan chocolates, but most likely they will just eat it in lump form. It is easy to make and so much more delicious than the bought variety.  But by all means buy some if you want to miss out the step of making the marzipan.

These little cakes are very good, moist with the rum soaked fruit and streak of marzipan and just the right amount of sweetness with the marzipan top. Don’t wait until Easter, make them now.

You don’t need to soak your dried fruit in rum but it does make these cakes extra special.  I keep a jar topped up all year so it’s always there if I need it. But, if you haven’t got a jar of  rum soaked fruit sitting on the side (and really who, apart from me, has?) All they really need is an hour or so sitting in a few tablespoonfuls of rum.

For the marzipan: (to make about 325g)
150g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
75g caster sugar
1 small egg
1 tsp lemon juice
a few drops of almond extract (optional)

Method
Place all of the ingredients (you may not need all of the egg so put half in to begin with) in a food processor and whizz until it comes together. If you don’t have a food processor then just mix the ingredients together with your hands until they come together in a smooth ball.

Cut out 24 small circles (12 for popping in the middle of the batter and 12  for the top). Make some balls for the top.  Traditionally you would have 11 balls on the top of your simnel cake to represent the apostles.

Apricot jam or something similar ( I used my crabapple jelly) to brush on the top of the cooked cakes to help the marzipan disc and balls stick.

For the cakes:
150g softened unsalted butter
150g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g mixed  dried fruit (optionally soaked in a few tablespoonfuls of rum for at least an hour)
zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon

You will need 12 cake cases and a 12 hole patty tin. Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the middle of the baking oven of the Aga.

Method
Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between additions. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold these with the lemon juice and fruit gently into the mixture until well combined.

Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each of the cases. Top with a disc of marzipan and then top each with another heaped teaspoon of mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until springy to the touch.

Brush the warm jam over each cake and top with a disc of marzipan and decorate with the balls. Place under a preheated grill or at the top of the roasting oven of the Aga for a few minutes until the marzipan is lightly browned. Place on a wire tray to cool completely.

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Depressed Cake Shop

Depressed Cake Shop poster

I have been asked to bake a cake for Shrewsbury’s Depressed Cake Shop on Tuesday 10th October at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery in partnership with the charity Shropshire Mind.  The Depressed Cake Shop is a chance for the community to come together and consider and discuss issues around depression.

All the cakes will contain an element of grey to symbolise the grey cloud that can hang over someone struggling with depression.

I have trialled my cake today to make sure I have the recipe spot on before baking it again for next week’s event.  I have chosen to make a chocolate orange cake based on Claudia Roden’s orange and almond cake, but with the added boost of chocolate. Nigella has a similar recipe but I have reduced the sugar by 50g and upped the treacly flavour of the sugar by using light soft brown rather than caster sugar.

Chocolate and orange cake

If you are in or near Shrewsbury next Tuesday then please pop into the museum between 11am and 2pm to support this very good cause.

Chocolate, orange and almond cake

2 oranges
200g light soft brown sugar
6 eggs
200g ground almonds
50g cocoa powder

Method
Place the oranges in a pan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 1½ hours until the oranges are soft. Drain and allow to cool. Cut the oranges in half and remove any pips. Place in a food processor and pulse until pureed. You can do this in a food mill or chop finely and push through a sieve if you don’t have a food processor.

Preheat your oven to 180°c or gas mark 4 or use the baking oven of the four oven Aga (or the roasting oven of the two oven Aga using a cake baker or cold shelf).

Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat until combined. Add all the other ingredients and stir well until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into an 18cm cake tin lined with baking parchment.  Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until springy to the touch.  Cool on a wire rack in the tin for ten minutes and then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.

I have decorated my cake with a grey cloud made out of fondant icing coloured grey and piped with a darker grey icing made with icing sugar, food colouring and a few drops of water.

Chocolate and orange cake slice

UPDATE (9/10/17): A lovely person called Chantal emailed me to remind me that we aren’t supposed to make cakes with nuts in, in case of allergy. I really should read things properly!  So, instead I have made rice crispie cakes, because who doesn’t love a crispie cake? They are always the first to sell on any cake stall. I hope they sell well tomorrow.

 

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Coconut and cardamom cake

Cardamom and coconut cake

17th March – It’s another clothes swap with the book club tonight so I am making cakes to take along as my contribution. I have made a ginger cake, a firm favourite, and I was thinking about what else I could make that is a bit different. I have some coconut flour in the cupboard and I was thinking about how good coconut and cardamom work together in a curry. It seemed to me that it might work in cake. The scent of cardamom as this cake is baking is phenomenal, it promises to be a great cake.

18th March- The cake was a big success. I found the cardamom a little overpowering and might reduce the number of seeds used next time, but I was outvoted on this point by my friends. They all sang the cake’s praises. They might have been being kind to me of course, but they assured me they weren’t.

I iced the cake before I took it along to the clothes swap. I mixed icing sugar with the juice of a lime and a couple of tablespoonfuls of desiccated coconut, until I got a fairly stiff icing. The lime was a good call, emphasising the citrus notes of the cardamom, but if you don’t have a lime in the house using lemon juice or water would work equally well.

175g butter, soft
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g greek yoghurt
25g coconut flour
125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
15-20 green cardamom pods, shelled and the seeds crushed finely in a pestle and mortar (this makes a very scant teaspoon of ground cardamom)

Method
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light. Add one egg at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the yoghurt and then the coconut flour, plain flour, baking powder and cardamom.

Once combined, spoon the batter into an 18cm cake tin that has been lined with parchment. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the centre of the Aga’s baking oven for 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for ten minutes in the tin, before turning out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

It will be a good cake without icing, but if you want to make it look a bit more fancy then mix together icing sugar, lime juice (or lemon juice or water) with a couple of tablespoonfuls of desiccated coconut until it makes a fairly stiff icing and spread over the top of the cake.

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Coffee cake

coffee cake

This is a cake that I make a lot, but for some reason, not known even to me, I have never posted it here. Sometimes I add 50-100g walnuts to make it into a coffee and walnut cake. Either way, it’s a firm favourite in this household. I have a bread making class this evening and this is the cake that we will be sharing in between kneading and shaping loaves. Then if there is any left the girls will demolish the rest.

The cake follows the rules of the Victoria Sandwich, in that you weigh your eggs and then use that weight for your other ingredients. So today my 4 eggs weighed 220g, so I used 220g butter, 220g sugar (I went with half caster and half light brown sugar), 220g plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder (or for convenience use self-raising flour and then there is no need for baking powder) and a scant cup of strong espresso. You can, of course use instant coffee dissolved into hot water to make a strong coffee solution, or coffee essence.

4 eggs (weigh them in their shells and use that weight for your flour and sugar too)
Softened (room temperature) butter (same weight as your eggs)
Sugar (I used half caster sugar and half light brown, my eggs weighed 220g today so I used 110g of each sugar)
Plain flour (same weight as your eggs)
1 tsp baking powder
Scant cup of strong espresso or instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp of water (cooled)

Method
Preheat your oven to 180°c, gas mark 6 or use the centre of the baking oven in a four oven Aga. Grease and line 2 sandwich tins.

Weigh your eggs in their shells and use that weight for your butter, sugar and flour.

Whisk your butter in a large bowl or free-standing mixer until soft and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat well until the mixture is soft and fluffy. This always takes longer than you think it will so be patient and give it time. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well between each addition. If the mixture starts to curdle add a spoonful of flour to the mix and it will come together again. Add the espresso and beat well. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in using a large metal spoon carefully but thoroughly. Divide the mixture between the two sandwich pans and spread gently to the edges of the tins. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake has started to shrink away from the sides of the tin and it feels springy when you lightly touch the top with the tip of your finger. Leave to settle in the tin for a couple of minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Sandwich the two cakes together with a coffee butter cream.

Coffee buttercream
100g softened (room temperature) butter
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp strong espresso (cooled)

Method
Beat the butter until soft, add the icing sugar and beat gently until combined and then whisk until fluffy, add the coffee and beat until well combined. Use half the mixture to spread on the bottom of one of the cakes. Lay the other cake on top and use the other half of the buttercream on top of the cake. Decorate with chocolate coffee beans or your choice of nuts.

Coffee cake

A cheeky slice for quality control purposes.

 

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Whey cake

Whey cake

Warm walnut and cinnamon whey cake

I have been making a fair amount of my own soft cheese lately, experimenting with recipes before I run a course on Home Dairying at Acton Scott next year. The benefit of all this cheese making is the whey that you are left with. I have been using it to make bread, replacing the water with the whey, and it makes a lovely tender crumb. I use it to make scones, you get the bonus of having the soft cheese to spread on top. This is especially lovely if you jazz the soft cheese up by adding a bit of soft brown sugar and some chopped nuts. You can use it to make pancakes, the Scotch or American kind, too, or add it to your waffle mixture. Whey is a versatile ingredient, so should you fancy a bit of soft cheese making at home, please don’t throw away the whey (now, there’s a sentence).

There are two types of whey; a sweet whey resulting from the use of rennet in cheese making, and an acidic whey resulting from the use of lemon juice in the making of soft cheese.  In this instance I have used an acidic whey, but either can be made use of here.

This cake was inspired by this one at King Arthur Flour but I have made some changes to make it my own. I have reduced the quantities to make it a more manageable loaf cake rather than a large tray bake. I have reduced the sugar in the cake batter too, as it seemed like a lot of sugar. This hardly makes it healthy though as there is still plenty of sugar in the cake and topping.  I have substituted walnuts for pecans and added cinnamon instead of vanilla. It is delicious warm, just add a bit of cream or sweetened soft cheese and you have a lovely pudding.

50g soft butter
150g light brown sugar
1 egg
150g liquid whey (mine was acidic from the addition of lemon juice in the cheese making process)
175g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

For the topping
40g melted butter
100g light brown sugar
25g milk
pinch salt
50g walnuts (or the nuts of your choice)

Method
Line a 2lb loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the middle shelf of the baking oven of the four oven Aga.

To make the cake beat the butter and the sugar together well. It won’t become soft and fluffy because there is a lot more sugar than butter, but it should be well mixed. Add the egg and continue to beat. Add the whey. It will curdle, especially if you have used an acidic whey. Don’t worry about it. Add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and beat well, until all is combined and you have a soft batter. Pour into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for about 25 -30 minutes until just lightly browned and starting to firm up. In the meantime make the topping as this is spread on top for the last five minutes of cooking time. Combine all the ingredients for the topping. When the cake is nearly cooked bring it out of the oven and pour the topping over the top. Place back in the oven and cook for another 5 minutes. The topping will be bubbling and you should be able to insert a skewer into the cake and it will come out clean (except for a bit of the topping that will inevitably stick to the skewer). Leave to cool in the tin. Enjoy a slice warm or eat cold, depending on your fancy.

 

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Banana, chocolate and walnut cake

Banana, chocolate and walnut cake

Just one of the  bonuses of running bread making courses if that I have to make a cake to take along to each one. This week’s choice was easy. I spied a couple of bananas on the side that were turning the wrong side of eating-ripe. If I am going to eat a banana (and I do, most days) a good eating banana is just a little underripe. But if I am going to make a banana cake then it needs to be at that “mash me now” stage, and these two were.

Dark chocolate and walnuts both have a wonderful affinity with a banana. They both have that slight bitterness that undercuts the sweetness of the banana. I topped the cake with a chocolate ganache for a bit of extra indulgence, but really it doesn’t need it.

This cake will also sit quite happily in a tin waiting to be eaten. In fact, I made this one on Monday for the course on Tuesday and I am just enjoying a slice of it today (Friday).

I am linking this with this month’s We Should Cocoa, hosted this month by Choclette over at her wonderful blog Tin and Thyme, which has  the theme of bananas. How very fortuitous. If you haven’t yet become acquainted with Choclette then get yourself over to her blog immediately and indulge yourself in her many wonderful recipes, many of them on a chocolate theme and all of them vegetarian.

Banana, chocolate and walnut cake 

Two medium-sized bananas
3 eggs, 2 separated
50ml milk
100ml sunflower oil
75g dark brown sugar
75g caster sugar
175g spelt flour (or you could use wholemeal or plain flour)
50g walnuts
4 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
50g dark chocolate, chopped roughly

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°c, gas mark 3 and use the centre of the oven or place the rack on the bottom runner of the baking oven of the Aga. Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment making sure there is a rim of at least 2cm over the top of the tin.

Mash the bananas until smooth in a large bowl or jug. Add the whole egg and the two yolks, the milk and the oil. Mix together until well combined.

In a scrupulously clean bowl beat the two egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.

In another large bowl mix together the sugars, the walnuts and the chocolate. Sift over the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and the baking powder. If you are using wholemeal then make sure you tip in any bran left in the sieve.

Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Add one-third of the egg white and mix well to loosen the mixture. Carefully fold in the rest of the egg white.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Check after 45 minutes and it may take 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate ganache

80ml double cream
100g dark chocolate

Method

Chop the chocolate very finely or pulse in food processor until fine. Heat the cream in a heavy based saucepan until just simmering. Remove the cream from the heat, tip in the chocolate and leave for a minute. Stir until the ganache is smooth and glossy. Decorate the top of the cake with a thick layer of ganache, swirling the top.

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