Category Archives: cake

Parsnip and honey cake

Parsnip and honey cake

I belong to a book club. Well, when I say book club… It started a couple of years ago with the intention of us reading a book and meeting to discuss it every month. After a couple of months the book club turned into what it is now; we gave up on the books and just enjoy meeting to have a proper catch up. A few times a year we have a clothes swap evening. Which is a brilliant idea for everyone but me. I don’t buy many new clothes and those that I do I tend to wear until holes appear. So, I never have anything to contribute to the clothes swap. For this reason I always take food instead. Last week I took this cake. It was a big success.

The cake in the photo above is only half the mixture. Because I hadn’t made it before I wanted to do a taste test to make sure it was good before I took it along. So I split the mixture into two loaf tins and me and Mr OC polished off the other half a little too easily. Your cake will, therefore, be bigger than the one in the pic.

The cake improves the next day. The first day, the taste is predominantly parsnip. The second day, the parsnip has mellowed and the other flavours are given a chance to shine through. It is a sweet, slightly spicy, moist and delicious cake.

NB: I added 25g of coconut flour in place of 50g of the plain flour, (you need less coconut flour) but I have not specified this in the recipe as you do not need it and I don’t want you to go out and buy it just to make this cake.

250g grated parsnip (from about 350 -400g of unprepared parsnip)
175ml olive oil (not extra virgin) or rapeseed oil or sunflower oil (whatever you have in the cupboard)
150g light brown sugar
100ml honey
3 eggs
100g wholemeal flour or spelt flour
150g plain flour
5g (1tsp) baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
50g walnuts (optional)

Method

Grease and line a 20cm square or round tin or a 2lb loaf tin. Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the centre of the baking oven of the Aga.

Mix together the oil, sugar, honey and eggs in a large bowl until well combined. Add the grated parsnip and mix well.

In another bowl mix together the flours, baking powder, mixed spice and walnuts and then add them to the wet ingredients. Mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level the surface. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until the top is golden and a skewer comes out clean when pierced through the centre of the cake. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

UPDATE* 7th October 2015

I made the cake again with a few more adaptations (well I can’t help myself) for our evening bread making  class last night. Here is a full sized version of the cake and how yours will look of you don’t split it between two pans.

parsnip and honey cake

The adaptations included using half grated parsnip and half grated carrot and adding 100g currants which I had warmed in a pan with the juice of ½ an orange to plump them up. I frosted the cake before serving with a cream cheese frosting, combining 250g icing sugar with 50g softened butter and 125g cream cheese and the grated zest of an orange. It was a big hit with the ladies on the course.

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Lemon, poppy seed and almond cake

Lemon and poppy seed cake

I am baking this for tomorrow’s bread making evening class. I have been meaning to make a poppy-seed cake for ages and just not got round to it. I love the way the tiny black dots glisten amongst the soft cake. Poppy seeds always make me smile to myself. The first time I put a bread roll  adorned with poppy seeds in front of my eldest, she just stared at it for a long time. I wondered what she was thinking so I asked her if she was ok. “What are these mummy?” she asked pointing to the top of the roll. “Poppy seeds, darling”, “Oh, I thought they were beetles”.  I promise that no beetles were harmed in the making of this cake.

If you don’t want to use ground almonds then just use 175g of flour instead. You need four lemons for this cake. Don’t be fooled by it saying three lemons  in the first section. But if you only have three lemons in the house then no harm will come to the cake if you just use the zest of 2 lemons in the cake itself.

For the cake

175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
Zest of 3 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
125g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
2 tbsp poppy seeds

For the syrup

Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 1 lemon
50g granulated sugar
50g icing sugar
1 generous teaspoon poppy seeds

Method
Grease or line a 2lb loaf tin. Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or bake in the middle of the baking oven of the Aga.

Beat together the butter and the caster sugar until fluffy and lighter in colour. I find that if I use an electric whisk to get things started and then go in with my hand like a claw I get a much fluffier mixture. The heat of your hands makes the difference. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly between additions. Add the lemon zest, juice, flour, ground almonds and poppy seeds and fold in with a large spoon until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture evenly into the tin and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the cake is golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Whilst the cake is baking, mix together the ingredients for the syrup.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven use a skewer to pierce all over and deeply into the cake. Spoon the syrup evenly over the cake. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

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Salted peanut butter brownies

Salted peanut brownies

We are off to a friend’s straight after school tonight so I have made these brownies to take with us for a treat. I have also asked one of the students attending Sunday’s bread making course for cake requests and brownies are at the top of her cake list. It made sense then, to trial these and cook again on Saturday, ready for Sunday.

They are an adaptation of Ruby Tandoh’s excellent Salted Milk Chocolate Brownies from The Guardian Cook section published on 7 February this year. I can’t resist fiddling with recipes so I have added peanut butter, used dark chocolate instead of milk and used half and half of caster sugar and soft dark brown sugar. I have also swapped the plain flour with wholemeal spelt.

When I made Ruby’s brownies the first time, (with just a few changes), it became quite clear that by sprinkling sea salt on the top of these beauties just makes them even more tempting and addictive.

If you have a fancy for a gooey, deeply chocolatey, salty and nutty cake (and who wouldn’t?) get your teeth wrapped around one (or two, or three) of these.

Makes 9 brownies

175g unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate
50g cocoa powder
100g caster sugar
100g soft dark brown sugar
3 eggs
50g wholemeal spelt flour
¼ tsp fine salt
About 100g crunchy peanut butter
Sea salt flakes

Method

Melt the chocolate and the butter together in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir in the cocoa powder. Leave to cool slightly.

Whisk the sugars with the eggs in a large bowl until the mixture is thick and doubled in volume.

Pour the chocolate mixture onto the egg mixture and fold carefully together until well mixed. Add the flour and the salt and fold in. Pour the batter into a foil lined 20cm square cake tin. Drop blobs of peanut butter into the batter and swirl with a skewer. Sprinkle the sea salt flakes over the top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 for 25-30 minutes or in the Aga’s baking oven with the rack set on the bottom rung for 20 minutes until the brownie is crusted on top but still has a bit of a wobble. It should be undercooked so that when it cools it is fudge and dense in texture with a crust.

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Grape cake

grape cake

There has been a bumper crop of grapes at my niece’s house this year. There have been lots of grapes in previous years. But this year with the warm weather these grapes are really delicious. They are small and unfortunately seeded, but for outdoor grown English grapes they are very, very good.

bowl of grapes

Until I picked up a copy of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy from the local charity shop I had no idea that grape cake was a thing. He also recommends freezing grapes and enjoying them frozen as a dessert with a bit of chocolate – my goodness, frozen grapes are delicious. So quite a few bunches have been frozen and then a couple of bunches made their way into this cake. The cake is really good. It’s a shame these grapes have seeds. I didn’t remove the seeds prior to including the grapes in the cake batter and they do ruin the texture of the cake a little. But with these grapes being so small, taking the seeds out would have been a long-winded process.

I have altered Jamie’s recipe. Well, I can’t help myself from tinkering. So this is my recipe for grape cake. Blueberries, raspberries or apple (chopped up small) would be a good alternative to grapes if you don’t have any handy. I had a bit of dessert wine left over that needed using up so I included it in this cake. If you don’t have any to hand then just use more milk in its place, so 150ml milk rather than the 75ml. This is a lovely moist cake and I will be trying it with other fruit too.

4 eggs
250g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, melted
150g extra virgin olive oil
75ml sweet wine (or you could use milk if you don’t have any sweet wine)
75ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
400g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
600g grapes, or blueberries, or raspberries or apple chopped into small dice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°c, 350°f, gas mark 4 or use the middle shelf of the Aga’s baking oven. Grease and line a 23cm cake tin.

Beat the eggs and the sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer until thick and moussey and the whisk leaves a trail. Pour in the cooled butter, olive oil, wine, milk, lemon zest  and vanilla extract and beat again until combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently. Add three-quarters of the grapes and stir in gently. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and place the remaining grapes on top of the cake. Push them gently into the batter. Place back in the oven and cook for another 30-40 minutes until the cake feels firm when you press a finger on top. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

sliced grape cake

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Rock cakes

Rock cakes

These little cakes are something else I have been making quite a bit recently. A few months ago my nine-year old daughter came home and said this: “Mum, my friend E has rock cakes in her lunch box and I really like them”. Ah yes, I recognise a gauntlet thrown when I see one.  So there I was at 6.19 am the next morning making rock cakes to go into her lunch box. You can’t make rock cakes the day before. They need to be made and then eaten, preferably still warm after only a few minutes spent relaxing on a wire rack. But they are also acceptable at lunchtime when baked in the morning. Apparently.

I hadn’t made them for years before this. I don’t know why because they are delicious. I do know why, I had forgotten how good they are. The name rock cake doesn’t exactly sell them to you I realise, but really they are soft, gently spicy and very, very good. Make them as soon as you can, but not necessarily at 6.19 am, if you can help it.

I make mine in the food processor which means they are a matter of minutes to make.

Makes 12 – 15 cakes

225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp mixed spice
100g butter, softened
50g demerara sugar
100g dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, candied peel, a mixture – anything you have in the cupboard)
1 egg and 1 tbsp milk, beaten lightly together

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°c, gas mark 6, or use towards the bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga. Grease a baking sheet.

Place the flour, baking powder and mixed spice in the bowl of a food processor or in a large bowl. Cube the butter and either pulse until it looks like fine breadcrumbs or if doing it by hand rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips and a light touch. Add the sugar and the fruit. Add the egg and milk mixture and pulse again until it comes together or mix with your hands until it comes together in a soft dough.

Spoon small mounds of mixture onto the greased baking sheet, you want them to look rough edged like a rock. Spoon a little extra demerara sugar over each one. Place in the preheated oven and cook for about ten minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack, leave for a minute or two and then eat or wait until lunchtime.

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Chocolate chestnut cake

chocolate chestnut cake

 

I must share this cake with you. I have been making it a lot in recent weeks. Mostly because it keeps getting eaten before I have had chance to take a photo of it. Each time I fetch it out of the oven I say ‘now, I must get a photo of this cake this time’, then it’s gone. But I have also been making it because (and this is a really good excuse) chestnut flour doesn’t keep well, so you must use it quickly.

I buy my bread flour by the 25kg sack full from Shipton Mill. To get free delivery I always add to the order and this time I included chestnut flour. It’s not cheap but I have wanted to try it for ages. I am glad I did. It is seasonal so you may have to wait to make this cake.

This cake is fudgy and dense, like a brownie in texture. I have tried all caster sugar, all light brown sugar and half and half caster with muscovado. My favourite is to use all light brown sugar. It gives a caramel edge without being too heavy or bitter. The cake is even better the day after it is made as it just gets fudgier. Be careful not to overcook it though. You want a slight wobble left in the centre when you take it out of the oven. This will firm up when the cake is cooled and your cake will be lovely and moist.

If you have chestnuts rather than chestnut flour then I can recommend my other Chocolate Chestnut Cake as being equally delicious.

200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids and stuff that you enjoy eating)
200g unsalted butter
200g soft light brown sugar
4 eggs, separated
100g chestnut flour

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°c, gas mark 3 or use towards the bottom of the baking oven of the Aga. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.

Break the chocolate into small pieces into a bowl. Cube the butter and add to the chocolate. Melt the butter and chocolate in the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (making sure the water does not touch the base of the bowl). When melted stir gently to combine.

Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together until well combined and slightly paler in colour.

Whisk the egg whites in a separate, scrupulously clean bowl to firm peaks.

Add the melted chocolate and butter mixture to the egg yolks and sugar mixture and combine well. Fold in the chestnut flour. Add one third of the egg whites, mixing in well so that the mixture is light and the remainder of the eggs can be very gently folded in, retaining as many of the tiny bubbles as possible. When all combined, gently pour the mixture into the lined tin and place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. It may take a few minutes longer depending on your oven but check at 20 minutes as you don’t want to overcook it.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes and then turn out onto a plate. You can dive in straight away or restrain yourself and keep until the next day.

 

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Winberry muffins

winberry muffins

 

If you go down the woods today…..

Or, indeed walk up a large hill, then you may well be in for a surprise. No bears having picnics (I hope) but bushes of these delicious little bursts of purpley goodness. My lovely friend and I try to take a walk each week. It’s always a great walk whatever the weather. We put the world to rights in an hour and a half. At the top of the hill you are always rewarded with a wonderful 360° view, whether that is cloud shrouded fields, or crops withering under a heat haze. But at this time of the year you are also rewarded with winberry bushes. There is a mass of them, covered in these tiny berries. They are time-consuming to pick and this is made slightly more difficult, but also more hilarious, by my friend’s dog cavorting through the bushes, stopping to hoover some of the berries up with his front teeth. You don’t get many in fifteen minutes of picking (unless you are a dog), but you get enough for a couple of batches of these muffins. So, well worth the purple stained fingers.

winberries

 

The winberry is a cousin of the blueberry but much smaller. It is known by lots of other names – bilberry, whortleberry, blaeberry, windberry, whinberry etc etc. They grow on nutrient poor acidic soil and my friend and I were discussing how amazing it is that on this windswept hill, which spends a fair amount of time under low slung cloud and takes the worst of the winter weather these little bushes thrive and produce these delicious fruits.

Please remember that if the land on which the winberry grows has an owner then you should ask their permission before foraging. Take only a few, leaving plenty for the birds and mammals which rely on them. Most importantly, make sure you know for certain that it is a winberry bush and not something poisonous.

Makes 12 mini muffins (fairy cake size) or 6 muffins.

150g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
1 egg
80g butter
200ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
80-100g winberries (or less if you haven’t managed to pick that many)

Method

When making muffins, lightness is key, so sift the flour and baking powder and don’t overmix.

Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar gently. Make a well in the centre.

Melt the butter and add to the beaten egg, the milk and the vanilla extract in a jug.

Pour the liquid into the flour and mix very briefly. Add the winberries and mix just enough to distribute them.You should still have some lumps of flour.

Spoon into muffin cases in a patty tin. I used cupcake sized cases to make mini muffins and made 12 rather than 6 large ones.

Place in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 for 15-20 minutes. I took them out of the oven five minutes before they were ready and sprinkled demerara sugar on their tops and continued to cook until the muffins were golden brown. This gives them a slightly crunchy top.

half eaten winberry muffin

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