Maple Vanilla Sponge Cake with Coffee Drizzle and Spiced Maple Buttercream

Lockdown baking.  It’s a thing.  So much so that everyone is buying all the flour.  All I can say is what’s wrong with you that you don’t bake all year round?!!  I’ve been doing bits and pieces, using up ingredients I still had in the cupboard.  I slightly adapted the hot cross bun recipe I baked a short while ago, and made cranberry, ginger and orange buns.  I made focaccia (to be fair I make this a lot, it’s so useful to have a supply in the freezer), and I made confit garlic.   This always sounds posher than it is, but in terms of having readily accessible garlic, it is a winner.

A combination of factors however has reduced my baking frequency.  Lack of ingredients in the shops – bring back flour, especially bread flour, I am dying to restart my sourdough bread!  And of course in lockdown I can’t feed everyone that I used to share out the results of my bakes with, and whilst I can eat all my cake, it’s probably not the best idea! Tempting, though, but not a good idea.

I have wanted to do something for ages using maple as the flavour, and I couldn’t find a recipe that floated my boat.  In the end I decided to tweak (who, me?!?!) a recipe, and it turned out surprisingly well.

I chose to base the sponge cake on the recipe for vanilla sponge with raspberry buttercream which I baked a while back – sorry, but I’m a techno-dud and I can’t find the way to link to previous posts anymore 😦 but that recipe was based on the easy vanilla cake recipe from BBC Good Food.  I replaced some of the sugar in the recipe with maple syrup, and reduced some of the liquid.  Whilst the cake turned out fine, there was a point where I thought it might end up in the bin.  The cake rose like Vesuvius in the oven and at the end of the baking time when I put a skewer in, it was still mostly uncooked inside.  I put a piece of foil over the top of the cake to stop it burning and left it in the oven for a further 15 minutes.  Luckily it was done then, and I decided to go the whole hog by drizzling a coffee syrup on top and covering it with a spiced maple buttercream.  In spite of the dodgy moment, the cake turned out well, but I give the standard sponge cake recipe below and am leaving out my tweaks.  In all honesty I don’t think adding the maple syrup to the sponge mix made a difference, next time I will stick to the standard sponge recipe.

Ingredients:

250g butter, softened

250g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

5 large eggs – cracked into a jug and lightly whisked

85g plain flour

250g self-raising flour

100g plain full fat Greek yogurt (or plain Greek style yogurt)

3 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan).  Grease and line a round 20cm baking tin with nonstick baking parchment.

With an electric whisk, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla and ¼ teaspoon salt together until light and fluffy.  Pour in the eggs a bit at a time, whisking well to incorporate.  Beat in the yogurt.

Mix the two flours together and then fold them gently into the cake batter and mix in the milk.  Spoon into the cake tin and bake for an hour and 20 minutes, or until well risen and golden – a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.  Leave the cake to cool for 30 minutes in the tin.

Meanwhile, make your coffee drizzle:  In a small pot put 50g golden caster sugar with 50ml water and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Add two tablespoons of coffee granules and mix well.

Use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake, going right to the bottom.  Pour the syrup over the cake slowly, letting it completely soak in after each addition.

Leave the cake to cool completely and then cover with frosting.  I don’t have a recipe here, but choose your favourite vanilla buttercream recipe.  Make the frosting up according to the recipe but instead of adding vanilla, add two tablespoons of Monin Maple Spice Syrup.  Cover your cake with the frosting and breathe deeply.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Am I feeling bad that this year I have not baked anything festive?  Actually I am.  I do love different bakes for special times of the year.  But sometimes, I just have to accept that it is not a good idea.  So this year, no mincemeat, no Christmas cake, nothing.  I have bought a Panettone, the Marks and Spencer chocolate, cranberry and orange one.  This will satisfy my need for a festive bake (albeit one that I bought).  Even Christmas day itself is going to be low key.  I haven’t decided on the main course – which would ordinarily have been Nigella’s ham in coke, which is a many-times tried and trusted recipe.  As for pudding, again I am taking the easy way out.  I have bought ready made pastry and ready-made mincemeat and will make mince pies, served with (ready-made) brandy cream.  I should be ashamed of myself.

Tony’s birthday is in December and again I usually bake a special cake for him (you can never be too caked-out in December!) but not this year.  I did however bake this recipe from Good Housekeeping for Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake.  Stupidly, I am unable to find a link to it.

I saw the recipe and immediately started thinking oooh….maybe if I just tweak it….I reigned myself in and kept my tweaking to a minimum.  I simply replaced the liquid in the sponge with bourbon. There are just a couple of things I would do next time I bake this:  once the dates have been soaked, I would mash them, so they were more like a puree as I think they will incorporate more smoothly into the sponge mixture; and for the pudding sauce, I would either completely replace the dark muscovado sugar with light muscovado sugar, or do half and half.  Actually, I might even put some vanilla extract in the sauce (that makes it a third tweak!!).  For me, personally the toffee sauce, whilst delicious, had too strong a molasses flavour.  Having said that, everyone else loved the pudding and the sauce.  It is all super easy to make too.  My photos are a bit unappetising unfortunately.

Ingredients:

100g stoned dates, finely chopped

100ml hot English Breakfast tea, freshly brewed (I replaced this with bourbon)

125g butter, salted

150g dark muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 medium eggs

125g self-raising flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160° Fan).  Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment or a loaf tin liner.

Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.  Add the golden syrup and eggs and beat again.  Fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until well incorporated, then stir in the date mixture (liquid and all) until just combined.  Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce:

50g butter

50g dark muscovado sugar

100ml double cream

In a small pan, heat together the sugar, butter and cream, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil, stirring and let it bubble for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while.

Serve the cake warm, or at room temperature in slices with the sauce (reheat gently if required) and vanilla ice cream.  The leftover cake reheats very well when wrapped up tightly in foil.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Suretta’s Chocolate Cake

A while ago I asked on social media for suggestions for baking.  These came in thick and fast!  However, one person sent me a recipe for chocolate cake and just said “trust me”.   And so I did, and I have named the cake after her. 

This recipe is slightly different in a few ways from the standard method for chocolate sponge cake recipes.  It uses oil instead of butter – no more creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy!  The eggs are separated, with the yolks being mixed into the batter with the other ingredients, and only at the end are the stiffly whisked egg whites folded in.  And finally, there is a sauce which is poured over the hot cake before it is covered with icing.  The whole thing works.  I was worried that the cake might be soggy, but it wasn’t.  And, really, this is a lovely easy recipe to make, and it tastes good.

The measurements are in cups – a standard American cup measure, or if you don’t have these, one cup = 250ml

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°).  Line a 20cm springform cake tin with baking parchment, or a cake tin liner.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup cake flour, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt.

In a separate bowl beat together 4 egg yolks, ½ cup of oil, ½ cup water and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well (stir them in well together, there is no need to whisk them in).

In a separate bowl beat together 4 egg whites with ½ teaspoon of baking powder until stiff peaks.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the rest of the cake batter.

Pour into the baking tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly.

In a pot put ½ cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 200ml of evaporated milk (the unsweetened kind).  Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes.  Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Leave the cake to cool.  Melt 200g chocolate with 30ml milk and pour over the cooled cake.

Enjoy your cake!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 😊

Biscoff Traybake

I’m a real sucker for those quirky recipes, where you think really?  Will that work? And equally currently I am just looking for easy.  I want to bake bread, all the bread, but I don’t have the energy to do it.  And cheesecake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes……I want to do these, but they will have to wait.  I found this recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine and decided I had to try it.

The quirk, and the appeal is that this recipe only has three ingredients, no weighing, no fuss, minimum effort.  Hey, what’s not to love?!

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I was expecting the finished product to have a texture somewhere between a brownie and a large cookie – dense, slightly crumbly, maybe crisp on the edges but soft inside.  How wrong was I.  This recipe works so well, and comes out like a cake, light and fluffy. I didn’t spread any Biscoff on the top as was recommended in the recipe, but I think a light Biscoff buttercream would work well, but it is equally good just as it is.

Ingredients:

400g jar Lotus Biscoff Spread

3 medium eggs

2 teaspoons baking powder

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) and line a 20.5cm square tin with baking parchment.

Lightly whisk the eggs to mix them well and add the jar of Biscoff spread and baking powder.  Stir well with a sturdy spoon, it will all amalgamate in a thick mixture.

Spoon the mixture in the baking tin and put in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until just set.  Leave to cool before slicing.

And, there you are! This is so quick and easy, and with so few ingredients, one of those handy recipes to have in the event of a sudden need for cake!

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Chocolate & Coconut Cake

Chocolate?  Yes! Coconut?  Yes!  In a cake?  Yes!! This recipe for Chocolate & Coconut Cake in Sainsburys Magazine caught my eye.

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It is a chocolate cake batter, but with coconut milk, plenty of desiccated coconut, and ground almonds which really work well and give it a lovely texture.  The method is standard – cream butter and sugar, add eggs, fold in dry ingredients.

The resultant batter was quite stiff but I put it in the baking dish and into the oven.  The recipe suggested to bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  At 35 minutes I checked the cake but it was still wobbling, nowhere near done!  I added 10 minutes to the time and checked again, inserting a skewer into the cake, but it was not cooked through, I left it in for another 10 minutes and finally, it was cooked.  Unfortunately the top was quite cracked – I think this is either an oven temperature issue, or too much sugar?  In any event, ingredient-wise I had followed the recipe exactly.  You can see the flecks of coconut in the cake.

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I left it to cool for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

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Cracks?? What cracks?!!  Yes, I turned it upside down (crafty move).

Once the cake was cooled I set to work on the fudge topping.  With ingredients of chocolate, butter, cocoa powder and icing sugar, it seemed it would be a fudgy buttercream style icing.  Once it was all mixed the recipe said “…pour over the cake…

Pour???? Something has gone wrong….

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This was more like chocolate cement…I felt like giving up.  I added a bit of milk as the recipe suggested but this didn’t help significantly.  I had no more chocolate, so the option of making a second batch of fudge icing was out of the question.  Out of desperation I mixed up a small batch of chocolate buttercream, using the cocoa powder and mixed this with the stodgy mess I had created.  It was marginally better.  I was determined to somehow ice the cake and take photos.  I spread the icing on the cake, but the texture was awful.  My guess is the chocolate had split, which would explain the “graininess”.  Not to be outdone, I remembered I had some edible glitter.  Let’s be honest, there is not much that cannot be improved by a little glitter!!  And so I sprayed the surface with gold glitter.

And, so, there we have it.  The glittery chocolate and coconut cake.  The taste test? The cake is good, nice flavour and texture.  The icing?  No.  It is perfectly edible, but it is not what it should have been (though I suspect this is not the recipe’s fault, but rather my own).  I’m disappointed about that.  Would I make it again?  No, there are too many other options which I prefer.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Coconut & Lime Drizzle Cake

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I love lime and I love coconut, and together they make a heavenly combination.  I saw this recipe for a lime and coconut drizzle cake in Sainsbury’s Magazine, and knew I had to try it.  I have always fancied substituting lemons for limes in a lemon drizzle cake and here was my chance, with the addition of coconut.

This is a fairly standard loaf cake recipe, easy to follow and easy to do. I followed the recipe for the most part, other than not using coconut flakes for the topping, and I used 4 limes for the drizzle instead of 3.

The recipe calls for the addition of coconut milk and I used slightly more than called for.  I was mixing the butter and sugar with my electric whisk but instead of becoming light and fluffy, it had the consistency of gritty bread crumbs.  I didn’t want to add more butter to the recipe, so I added a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk to the butter and sugar, and that helped create the right texture.

Personally I find that when adding zest to the mixture and whisking it, the zest seems to collect on the whisk in great big clumps instead of being mixed into the batter.  So although the recipe called for the butter, sugar and zest to be whisked together, I added the zest when I folded in the flour.

The cake baked nicely, rising well and had a good colour.  I like the “drizzle” element of a cake to be nice and sharp, and so I added extra lime juice, and poured the drizzle over the warm cake.

The end result?  It is a lovely cake – please check out the recipe from the link at the beginning of this post. Personally though, I didn’t feel it had enough “zing”.  I guess because it is a drizzle cake, I had wanted (as happens with lemon drizzle cake) a lovely sharpness.  In this cake the coconut softens out the sharpness of the lime.  Both flavours are there, and the combination is lovely though.  Maybe next time I will use the lemon drizzle cake recipe and just use limes instead.

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

Marmalade Loaf Cake

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Have you ever had one of those days (times, lives??) where you feel like you’re 97 years old and decide to bake, and you fling ingredients in with a pretty much WTH attitude, but all the time believing you’re doing fine….but at the same time you have a sinking feeling that it’s not fine…..Oh, welcome to my life.  Except, I’m not 97.

My baking mojo has gone AWOL, I keep trying to recapture it, but I’m not that successful.  Am I just going through a “phase”, is it because I am exhausted, permanently.  Welcome to insomnia. Or that over the last few years there have been more major life stresses which I have not yet had a chance to deal with, and every so often, the emotion resurfaces and flashbacks happen, and I’m drained and stressed.  I don’t know.  This post is not supposed to be about all that.  I am just frustrated that I am having more failures than successes in my baking.  Let’s move on…..

Remember my post on Chocolate Orange Pudding Cake? I had leftover marmalade.  I could have made that pudding week after week until I’d used all the marmalade, but really, I need to try different things.  So, on to Aunty Google, where I came upon this recipe for Marmalade Loaf Cake.  And here we are today!

Believe it or not, I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all.  Not one tiny little bit.  This cake has, amongst other ingredients, orange zest, orange marmalade and ground almonds.  The addition of ground almonds to cake batter makes for a lovely textured cake.

The recipe was simple enough, and the basic technique of whisking butter and sugar, before adding eggs and then the dry ingredients and flavourings is pretty standard.

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The cooking time was 40 to 45 minutes, and so I set my timer for 43 minutes.  I got my skewer to test if the cake was done, and within a split second of opening the oven door, my beautifully risen loaf cake sank, leaving a deep valley through the centre.  I swear it did that on purpose….I left the cake in for another 5 minutes, by which time it was properly cooked, but sunken in the middle. Grrrr….snarl….

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After cooling in the tin for 5 minutes, I took it out and left it on a rack to finish cooling.  I decided not to add the marmalade glaze which the recipe calls for, though it probably adds a lovely finish to the cake, both in appearance and taste.

My sunken cake passed the taste test. The texture is lovely and it has a really nice orange flavour.  I would make it again, definitely.  I might even drizzle some dark chocolate over the top instead of using the glaze.  I just hope next time my cake stays beautifully risen!!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you all a peaceful day 🙂

Chocolate Orange Pudding Cake

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I have long been a huge fan of Nigella Lawson.  I first discovered her when she did a food column for Vogue magazine.  She was less well known then, not having written her cookery books, but has deservedly gone on to even greater heights.  Today’s bake is one I used to do often when I had friends over for dinner.  It was always a success, and is so easy to make.  It is, as it says, a pudding cake.  The texture is dense and slightly squidgy (technical term) and is more pudding than cake.  I wrote the recipe down when I first baked it, and have since tried to Google it.  I am unable to find this one other than looking at other bloggers’ sites.  I am guessing it might have appeared in her Vogue column.  There is a similar (but not identical) version with raspberries in her fabulous book “How to Eat“. But, again I cannot find this recipe online other than via other bloggers’ sites.

Ingredients:

125 butter

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces.

300g good orange marmalade

150g sugar

2 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt

150g self raising flour.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Butter and flour a 20cm springform cake tin – or use a cake tin liner.

Put the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and melt over a low heat (you can also do it with a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water).  When the butter is nearly melted, add the chocolate.  Remove from the heat and stir until the butter and chocolate are smooth and liquid.  Set aside to cool for a bit.

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Add the marmalade and sugar (I used light muscovado sugar, but plain white sugar is fine too).  Use any type of marmalade you like, one with a coarse shred adds more texture to the cake, but not everyone prefers that.  Add the beaten eggs and mix well until amalgamated.  Stir in the flour, and pour into the cake tin.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes – ovens vary and I find my cake needs just under an hour of cooking time, but check, insert a skewer and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.

This pudding cake is best eaten slightly warm, with cream, mascarpone or crème fraiche.  This is so simple and easy, and everyone will ask for the recipe!

Of course it would have looked a whole lot better if I had sifted a light dusting of icing sugar over the cake, but hey, it’s all about the taste, isn’t it!!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful day 🙂

Fig and Walnut Cake

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I have had a packet of dried figs in the cupboard since December last year.  Every now and then I look at it and think…..nah! I put it back and forget about it.  I love figs – fresh figs particularly, but the dried figs were for a Christmas-themed pudding which I didn’t make.  To be honest I’ve been a bit put off dried figs as a snack ever since – years ago – I soaked some, took a nice plump soaked fig and cut it in half, and there was a worm, who, poor thing, had obviously been dried with the fig!! Bleurgh.  It reminds me of the “what’s worse than biting into an apple and seeing a worm?” joke.  The answer of course is “seeing half a worm”.  And, folks, I’ve been there too……but I digress.  I had these dried figs, they had an expiry date, and I needed to use them.

Back to Aunty Google, and I eventually settled on this recipe for a fig and walnut cake.  Plus, fruit, nuts, some of your 5-a-day!  Win-win!

The figs are chopped and soaked in water and melted butter (there were no worms!!).  I did think should I replace some of the water with Cointreau (and reduce the sugar) but I restrained myself……  The sugar and eggs are beaten together and the rest of the ingredients added.  Simple.  There is also mixed spice and cinnamon in the mixture, which gave off a lovely scent as it was baking.

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The mixture is poured into the baking tin and cooks for around an hour.  I did start to get those crazy thoughts….I couldn’t see how the cake could be anything but dry.  I don’t know why that bothered me because the end result was not dry.

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My cake has a crack – it looks like it’s smiling, I can almost see two eyes as well…noooooo!

 

Final verdict?  There was nothing wrong with it, it wasn’t dry, but as a cake, and flavour-wise, it just didn’t work for me.  The spices are very subtle, not “in your face”, you can smell them more than you can taste them. I do think the Cointreau addition and some orange zest might give it a little much needed zing.  So there we are – neither success nor failure strictly speaking, just not my cup of tea!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful day 🙂

Chocolate Fudge Tia Maria Cake

Well hello, hello! Yes, I’m back.  2018, huh? What a year, and it’s still only January.

There is a recipe I have been wanting to bake for years.  Yes, years.  But for some reason or other, I never manage to get round to it.  When I was in primary school, my best friend Becky’s mum made a lovely cake called Parkin.  It was so delicious, I persuaded her to let me have the recipe, and a few months later I was at my stepmother’s house and decided to bake this for everyone.  Not being familiar with the kitchen, and where she kept everything, I could not find the flour.  I busied myself getting the ingredients together and then, somehow, managed to get distracted and forgot to ask where the flour was.  The cake was mixed, put in the oven and baked…………….the finished result was….well, let’s just say, it didn’t hold together well.  As we were all munching on the bits of cake – which were, everyone agreed, delicious – it suddenly came to me…the flour!!! That’s what was missing. 11-year old me didn’t have the confidence to confess, but, anyway, everyone enjoyed the (not quite proper) Parkin.

Fast-forward rather a lot of years, and this weekend I decided to revisit this cake.  I didn’t have the original recipe anymore, but, there are plenty about on a Google search.  The result?  Fail!!! I don’t know if it was me, the recipe, bad luck or a combination of all three.  It was horrible, dry….it ended up in the rubbish bin.

I felt I had to bake.  I had to bake something that would work out.  I had to bake something I had not baked before.  Saturday was #NationalChocolateCakeDay.  What else, then, but a variation on the chocolate cake theme!  Chocolate cake with a slight twist, the ultimate Tia Maria Chocolate fudge cake.

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I didn’t have any white sugar, and so the sugar I used was light muscovado sugar. In the method, I mixed the melted chocolate mixture with the flour, whisked it well and then added all the eggs, whisking as I added.  I didn’t think it would make a crucial difference to the outcome and I don’t think it did.

The cake is lovely, rich, moist, chocolatey and fudgey.  I have not iced it, but I think a good dollop of thick boozy cream would go very well with it instead of icing.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂