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Posts Tagged ‘Cake’

We don’t do much baking but we’ve managed more than usual with all of these lockdowns. This old-fashioned coffee and walnut cake is a favourite of Jules’ and was really straightforward to make – even for us baking novices. 

Coffee & Walnut Cake

  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp coffee extract (or 2 tsp instant coffee granules mixed with 1 tbsp hot water. Use a bit more in the cake mix than in the icing)

FOR THE ICING: 

  • 75g softened butter
  • 225g sifted icing sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp coffee extract
  • 8 walnut halves, to decorate

Heat the oven to 160C/Gas 4.

Grease two 18cm sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking paper. 

Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl and beat until well blended and smooth. 

Divide the cake mix between the sandwich tins and level the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and the top springs back when pressed lightly with a finger. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out, peel off the paper and finish cooling on a wire rack. 

To make the icing, beat the butter, sifted icing sugar, milk and coffee essence in a bowl until smooth. 

When the cakes are completely cold sandwich them together with half the icing and use the rest for the top. Decorate with the walnuts. 

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

 

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Jono's easy Christmas Cake

Actually it is Nigella Lawson’s Christmas cake but it has been made by Jono so many times … either with loads of time to spare, or as a last minute “I haven’t done the Christmas Cake!” rush. It always seems to come out as hoped. We do mean to try new recipes but end up doing this each year as it works with whatever dried fruits we have to hand. A good chance to clear out any that have accumulated in the cupboards during the year. 

Not being fans of marzipan and icing, we tend not to ice our Christmas cake, preferring to glaze it with apricot jam and decorate with nuts and/or glacé fruits, or just leaving it as it is. 

Wine suggestion: a little glass of Oloroso sherry never goes astray when baking this … it’s suitably Christmassy. This year it was the Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana’s Oloroso Faraon, a dry style but with a rich roundness and gentle spices.

Jono’s Christmas Cake

  • 775g best-quality mixed dried fruit – use up anything you have
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 250g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 x 250g tin sweetened chestnut purée
  • 125ml dark rum
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 250g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

To decorate:

  • 4 tbsp smooth, good quality apricot jam
  • 150g assorted glacé fruit, blanched almonds or pecans

Line the sides and bottom of a deep 20cm round cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper. Make sure this is higher than the tin. Then wrap a double layer of brown paper, as used to wrap parcels, around the outside of the tin and tie with string. Try and make the paper layer double the height of the tin to help the cake to cook slowly. 

Put the dried fruit, butter, sugar, chestnut purée, rum and orange juice and zests into a large wide saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 10 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2.

Add the beaten eggs, flour, baking powder and spices to the fruit and stir to combine. 

Carefully pour this mixture into the prepared tin, then bake for 1¾-2 hours. The top of the cake should be firm, dry and cracked a little. Test if done with a skewer, if it comes out clean then the cake is done. If some uncooked cake still clings to the skewer then return for a few more minutes until done.

Once cooked use the skewer to pierce the cake all over the top and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of extra rum. This gives the cake an extra boozy layer of flavour. Most of this alcohol evaporates off, but if you want to skip this step feel free.

Put the cake onto a cooling rack and remove the brown paper. When the cake has completely cooled, remove it from the tin and wrap well in greaseproof paper and tin foil. 

If you want to glaze the cake, put the apricot jam into a saucepan and add 1tbsp of water. Heat gently, stirring to make a sticky glaze, then take off the heat to cool. 

Brush the top of the cake with the apricot glaze, then decorate with fruit and nuts. Paint with a second coating of apricot glaze to give a shiny finish. 

(Original recipe by Nigella Lawson)

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Banana Bread

The perfect solution for  the black bananas in your fruit bowl – the blacker the better in fact!

Banana Bread 

  • 100g softened butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/Fan 160ºC/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.

Measure the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat for about 2 minutes or until well blended. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for about 1 hour or until well risen and golden brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling on a wire rack.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

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We gave each other a food mixer for Christmas and hence have baked more cakes in the last month than we’ve made in all our years of blogging. This one can be mixed up really quickly and can be made wheat-free for our coeliac friends with no adverse affect. We made this example with wheat; the wheat-free version which substitutes nuts (ground almonds) for the flour is  more squidgy and dessert-like.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake 

  • 150ml olive oil (not extra virgin), plus extra for greasing
  • 50g good quality cocoa powder
  • 125ml boiling water
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour (OR 150g ground almonds)
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 170ºC/Gas 3/325ºF.

Grease a 22 or 23cm springform tin with a little olive oil and line the base with baking parchment.

Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl and whisk in the boiling water to give a smooth paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract and set aside to cool a little.

In another bowl, combine the flour (or ground almonds) with the bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt.

Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or use whatever bowl and whisk you have) and beat vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale yellow and thickened cream.

Turn down the speed a little and add the cocoa mixture. When this is mixed in, add the flour (or ground almond) mixture.

Scrape down and stir a little with a spatula, then pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre still looks slightly damp. A skewer inserted into the cake should come out mostly clean.

Cool on a wire rack, still in the tin, for 10 minutes before easing the sides gently away with a metal spatula and springing out of the tin. Leave to cool completely and serve with cream and berries or eat while still warm with ice-cream.

(Original recipe from Nigella.com)

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Aussie Sponge

Jono has inherited this recipe for a never-fail Sponge Cake from his Nan and Mum in Australia. We’ll call it an Aussie Sponge as it’s not the usual Victoria Sponge. Very moreish and can be decorated in many ways. We just added some of our Strawberry and Pimm’s Jam, a bit of cream and a dusting of icing sugar. The cake lasted only 5 minutes (we had some help).

Aussie Sponge 

  • 4 eggs – separated
  • scant 250ml of castor sugar
  • 250ml self raising flour – sifted 3 times
  • 1 tbsp hot water

Beat the egg whites until very stiff, then slowly beat in the castor sugar.

Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, taking care not to over beat.

Fold in the sifted flour with a fork, then fold in the hot water.

Divide the mixture between two sandwich tins and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cake is lightly coloured and the sides spring back from the edges of the tin. Turn out onto a clean tea towel and cool.

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A very easy and delicious cake that’s perfect for using the bananas that have gone black in the fruit bowl. It’s even worth letting them go black for! We made this twice in a week and are tempted to make it again soon.

Chocolate and Banana Cake 

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 125g softened butter
  • 235g muscovado sugar
  • 400g (peeled weight) very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g dark chocolate

You need a non-stick loaf tin approx. 24cm x 12cm x 7cm deep, lined with baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Sift the flour and baking powder together.

Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light, fluffy and pale coffee coloured.

Put the bananas in a bowl and mash with a fork, lumps are ok as you don’t want a purée. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Beat the eggs lightly with a fork then beat them into the butter and sugar mixture. If it threatens to curdle add a spoonful of flour.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and fold them and the bananas into the butter and sugar mixture. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder.

Scrape the mixture into the baking tin and bake for about 50 minutes. Check that it is cooked by inserting a metal skewer into the centre. If it is moist but clean then the cake is ready. If there is any sign of wet cake mixture on the skewer, return the cake to the oven for a few more minutes. Cover the surface with foil if it starts getting too dark.

Leave the cake to settle in the tin for about 15 minutes, then loosen sides with a palette knife and carefully lift the cake out. Leave to cool for a bit longer before peeling off the paper. Serve cool.

(Original recipe from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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Almond & Fig cake

We made this when figs were in season and brought it to a friends house for lunch, then forgot about it. Here’s the recipe for the next time you find some fresh figs.

Fig, orange and polenta cake – to serve 8

  • 220g butter
  • 220g golden caster sugar
  • 150g almonds
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g polenta
  • a level teaspoon of baking powder
  • finely grated zest and juice of a large orange
  • 12 green cardamom pods
  • 6 figs

FOR THE SYRUP:

  • the juice of 2 oranges
  • the juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp honey

Line the base of a loose-bottomed non-stick 20cm cake tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Pour boiling water over the almonds, drain with a spoon and remove the skins. Finely chop the almonds in a food processor or by hand, then add them, along with the ground almonds to the cake mix.

Break the eggs into a small bowl, beat them lightly and add to the mix. Mix the polenta and baking powder together, then fold them into the mixture together with the grated orange zest and juice. Crush the cardamom pods and remove the tiny black seeds, then grind them to a fine powder with a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Add to the cake mix.

Cut the figs in half. Put half the cake mixture into the lined tin, add the figs, then add the rest of the cake mix and smooth the top level. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 160°C/Gas 3 and bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until the cake feels firm. Insert a metal skewer into the centre of the cake – if it comes out clean the cake is ready.

To make the syrup , squeeze the orange and lemon juice into a stainless steel saucepan, bring to the boil and dissolve the honey in it. Keep at the boil for 4-5 minutes or until a thick syrup has formed.

Poke holes in the top of the cake with a skewer, then spoon over the hot syrup. Leave until almost cool, then remove from the tin. Serve with some thinly sliced oranges and natural yoghurt.

(Original recipe from Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume II, Fourth Estate, London 2010.)

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Jono’s mum Gera often comments that we rarely put desserts on our blog. She sent us a collection of her favourite dessert and cake recipes and this is her chocolate fudge cake which was a great hit at our annual New Year’s Day lunch. The original recipe uses Australian cup measures so apologies for the odd measurements – they will work.

Gera’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

  • 180g butter
  • 250ml cocoa, sifted
  • 375ml castor sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs – separated and whites stiffly beaten
  • 375ml self-raising flour, sifted
  • 187ml plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup of cold water
  • whipped cream
  • icing sugar

Beat the butter to a cream with the sifted cocoa. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, then add vanilla.

Beat in egg yolks, one by one.

Stir in sifted flours alternately with the water.

Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites

Pour into 2 prepared 20cm cake tins.

Bake at 150-160ºC for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cake rack.

When the cake is cooled, sandwich together with whipped cream and sift icing sugar over the top.

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We’re really getting into desserts these days. I think we might have made two in the one month! We’re not really dessert people but lots of are friends are so we’ve been making an effort. This is a Spanish cake which is flavoured with orange and almond and is traditionally marked with the shape of a cross on the top. You don’t have to serve it with the strawberries but they work really well.

Tarta de Santiago with Strawberries & Sherry Vinegar – 8-10 slices 

  • a little butter, for greasing
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g ground almonds
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • icing sugar, for dusting

For the strawberries: 

  • 250g strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered lengthways
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50ml Sherry vinegar
  • vanilla ice cream, to serve

Mix the strawberries in a bowl with the sugar and vinegar, cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Butter and line a 22cm springform tin with baking parchment. Use an electric whisk to mix the eggs and sugar until pale and thick. Gently fold in the almonds and zest with a metal spoon.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes – it should be golden and a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake should come away clean. Take the cake out of the oven and cover with a clean tea towel to cool it down, so it doesn’t dry out. Dust with icing sugar and serve with the strawberries and ice cream.

Wine Suggestion: Try a rich Olorosso, a dark sherry from Spain, which has a warm nuttiness to complement the almond flavour in the cake.

(Original recipe by José Pizarro in BBC Good Food Magazine, August 2012.)

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