7/27/2015

Plum Flapjack Cake

I bought some plums from a local market. They were very ripe and needed using, so decided to make a plum cake of some sort. I found this recipe in my late mil's notebook, so not sure where it originates. It's a sponge cake with plums on top, then a sort of streusel layer, some of which sank into the cake and made it taste a bit like flapjacks - hence my recipe title!

Grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

It's an easy cake to make:

Put 175g soft butter or marg in the bowl of an electric mixer; add 175g soft brown sugar, 2 beaten eggs, 175g sr flour, 1/2 tspn baking powder and 1 tspn cinnamon, and beat together till nice and creamy.

You need 450g plums, halved and stoned. [ If they're not really ripe, put them in a dish in the oven sprinkled with 2 tbspn granulated sugar and bake them for about 20 mins till they've softened.]

Put the plums, cut side up, on top of the cake batter and make the topping.

Melt 50g of butter, add 50g sr flour, 1 tspn cinnamon, 25g oats and 25g flaked almonds and mix together.

Put the topping in blobs over the plums, trying to cover all the cake.

Bake for 11/4 hours till the top's golden.


                  You can see that my cake sank down in the middle - not sure why, as I didn't open the oven door at all -  but this didn't stop it being delicious!



                              This shows what I mean about the top being rather like flapjacks.

We had a slice as a dessert with a blob of creme fraiche. I loved the textures - the soft cake and fruit and the chunky topping with the nuts and oats.





7/22/2015

Gooseberry Meringue Cake


I recently posted on a friend's blog that I haven't been able to find any gooseberries this year. Sadly we left our gooseberry bushes in our French garden, and haven't room here to plant any. On Sunday we went to Suffolk for our granddaughter's 5th birthday, and my lovely German dil gave me a bagful of gooseberries given to her by a friend - they don't like them. She also gave me this recipe handed on by her grandmother.
It's not the prettiest cake, but it is delicious. I had to change a couple of things in the recipe as we can't find them in the UK [maybe you could online?] such as 'Sahnesteif' which helps cream stiffen and packet vanilla sugar. In the German recipe they used single cream, but I used double cream. The German recipe also used a packet meringue mix, but I made my own.


Preheat oven 160C/ gas 3
Grease 1 or 2 x 26cm springform cake tin and line the base with parchment paper.

Beat 100g of butter and 100g caster sugar together till light and fluffy.
In another bowl, beat 4 egg whites with 200g caster sugar till stiff peaks.
Pour half of the cake batter into the cake tin and spread evenly then top with half of the meringue mixture. Sprinkle with 40g flaked almonds.
Bake for 25-30 mins till golden.
Take out of the oven and cool for 5 mins, then lift out of the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Do the same again with the other half of the batter and meringue mixtures. If you have 2 x 26cm tins you can cook them both at the same time!

While the cakes are cooling, whip 600ml double or whipping cream with 4 tspn vanilla sugar [I keep a used vanilla pod in my sugar jar and used this] and 2 tspn caster sugar [but you could use all caster sugar and add 1/2 tspn vanilla extract].

Melt 2 tbspn butter in a pan and add the zest and juice of a lemon, 100ml of water or apple juice and 300g gooseberries. Simmer for about 5 mins till gooseberries are soft but still have texture. Use a slotted spoon to remove the gooseberries and thicken the liquid in the pan with 1 leaf of gelatine then put the gooseberries back in and cool.

To assemble the cake - put one cake layer onto a serving plate then top with the gooseberries. Spread on the whipped cream and top with the other cake.

The cake freezes well if you have any left over!



As I said earlier, it's not the prettiest cake, but it's delicious. I love the textures - soft sponge cake, tart gooseberries, crunchy meringue and almonds.
You need a sharp knife to cut it or the cream oozes out of the sides! My dil suggested that you cut the top cake layer into slices before putting it on top of the cream. She also said that it can be made with sour cherries, and that she's made it with strawberries and peaches. I think a tart fruit like gooseberries or sour cherries or maybe rhubarb would work best, as a contrast to the sweet meringue.




7/18/2015

Walnut and Coffee Cake

This is a 'healthier' version of my favourite cake! By this I mean that it uses oil instead of butter! I love the combination of coffee and walnuts, and this loaf cake is cut into three layers, which are filled with a cream mixture, and then the top is iced and decorated with walnuts. 

Preheat oven 190C/gas5 and grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

In a large bowl put 225g light muscovado sugar, 225g sr flour and1/2tpsn salt and mix together. Add 225ml vegetable oil [I used rapeseed], 4 egg yolks, 50ml strong espresso coffee and 50ml milk; beat in until well mixed and smooth.
Beat the egg whites till stiff and fold into the batter, half at a time.
Stir in 75g of chopped walnuts. Pour the mixture into the tin and tap to level it. Bake for about 50 mins till well risen. leave to cool in the tin for about 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

In a bowl pour 300ml of double cream;  add 1 tspn of strong coffee powder and 1 tbspn of caster sugar and beat well till stiff.
Cut the cooled loaf cake into 3 and sandwich each layer with some of the cream filling.

Sieve 100g icing sugar into a bowl and add 1 tbspn of strong espresso coffee and mix together. Spread over the top of the loaf with a palette knife and decorate with some walnut halves.




The cake has a lovely coffee flavour, and a soft texture. There's a good contrast between the soft cake, the crunchy walnuts, the creamy filling and the soft coffee icing. I think using the oil has given the cake a nicer texture, and I prefer just the coffee icing to a butter cream one, which would make the cake too sickly sweet for me.


7/10/2015

Amaretti and Peach Cake

I'm back to using up things lurking in my cupboard, and this time it's some Amaretti biscuits.
I bought some peaches a while ago and they're just ripe, so decided to use them too as peaches and almonds are a great combination. To reinforce the almond flavour I added some chopped almonds. The cake makes a nice dessert or a nice addition to the afternoon cuppa.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease a 20cm springform cake tin.

Skin and remove the stones from 2 peaches  [or you could use tinned]. Chop one into chunks and slice the other.
Whisk together 250ml plain yoghurt [not low fat] with 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda.
In another bowl sift together 200g plain flour and 11/2 tspn baking powder.
Beat together [yes I know it's a lot of bowls!]  115g butter and 200g sugar then add 2 eggs one at a time. Add 1 tspn vanilla extract to the batter. Add half the flour mixture then half the yoghurt mix then the rest of the flour mixture and the yoghurt mix. Carefully fold in the peach chunks and about 50g chopped almonds. Spoon into the tin.
Crush about 8 Amaretti biscuits and sprinkle them over the batter. Arrange the peach slices over the top.
Bake for about 45 mins and leave to cool in tin for about 10 mins then turn out onto a wire rack. You can dust the top with icing sugar if you want.




The cake had a lovely almond flavour and a good mixture of textures from the biscuits, soft cake and the fruit. I'm sure that there are other fruit that work well with almonds, This is a good recipe that is very versatile.

7/07/2015

Spicy Apple Crumble Cake


Over the years I've gathered quite a lot of recipes for apple cakes, but I found this one recently in an old magazine cutting. I've made crumble cakes before, but this one has 2 layers of apple, so a bit different. It also has some elderflower cordial in it, which sounded like an interesting addition.
The recipe used a 27x25 cake tin, but I only had my Wilton's brownie tin which is 27x17.8 so I made 3/4 of this mixture. Even so, it made a large cake; there was plenty for 6 people and some left over for us. This is the original recipe.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease and line a 27x25xm baking tin.

Cream together 200g butter or margarine and 200g caster sugar. Add 4 eggs one at a time and beat together.
Add 350g sr flour, 2 tspn mixed spice and 1 tbspn elderflower cordial and fold in. Put half of this batter in the tin.
Peel and thinly slice 500g cooking apples [about 2 large ones] and put half over the mixture in the tin.
Spoon over the rest of the mixture making sure you've covered the apples. Cover with the rest of the sliced apples.
Make a crumbke with 100g each of flour, caster sugar and butter or margarine and a handful of oats.
Sprinkle over the apples and bake for about 45 mins till cooked through.
Cool in the tin then take out and cut into fingers or squares. Serve it warm or cold, as a dessert or as a cake.


                                              We ate it as a dessert with some ice cream.


                                        You can see the apple layer on top of the sponge cake.

I think half the amount in the recipe would be sufficient and maybe use a 20cm square tin. I reduced  the amount of sugar in the crumble and added a tspn of cinnamon.
I liked the contrasting textures - the soft cake, the apple that still had a bit of  texture left in it, then cake more apple and finally the crunchy crumble.
I'm not sure about the elderflower cordial - I couldn't taste it.

6/27/2015

Chocolate Expresso Cheesecake


Having a BBQ tonight with friends so have made a cheesecake for dessert. Have made it many times and we love it because it's chocolate, but also has a hint of coffee in it.
 It's an American recipe which I've changed from cups, so there are some odd sounding amounts! I use ordinary digestive biscuits with cocoa powder to get the chocolate base, as I find this works better than using chocolate biscuits; I think it gives a better chocolate taste.

You need a 23cm springform tin.  Preheat oven 160C/gas3

Put 125g digestive biscuits in a processor and blitz till crumbs. Add 60g butter and 1 tbspn cocoa and blitz again till the mixture clumps together. Press this into the cake tin and put in the fridge.

Whisk 140g caster sugar and 1 tbspn of expresso powder [or a good instant powder] together in a little bowl.

Melt 350g dark chocolate [or a mixture of dark and milk] over simmering water or in the microwave. Keep this fluid but not hot.

On a low speed on a mixer or a handheld mixer beat 4 packs of Philadelphia or other cream cheese [at room temperature, so take out of the fridge beforehand] till smooth.

Gradually add the melted chocolate till it's all mixed in. Add the sugar and coffee mixture and 3 tbspn of double cream. Beat together, then add 3 large eggs [room temperature] one at a time and beat in on a low speed and finally add 1 tspn vanilla extract.

Pour into the tin and bake for 40-50 mins .Take it out when the top looks slightly dry, but there's still a wobble in the middle. Don't overbake it.

Cool in the tin then put in fridge overnight or for a couple of hour, before sliding a spatula round the inside of the tin before undoing the side.

I decorated the top with some chocolate curls I made from milk chocolate using my potato peeler. The curls are quite fragile, so use a spatula or suchlike to lift them onto the cheesecake.






A rich creamy chocolate cheesecake with a hint of coffee. I like the creamy texture and the contrast with the crunchy base. I hope my friends will enjoy it.














6/21/2015

Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I'm not usually a fan of American frostings, finding them too sickly, but my daughter wanted me to make her a cake with frosting for her birthday. I decided on a sweet potato one because it's been on my list of 'to make' for ages, and I had bought a bag of sweet potatoes with my weekly shopping. I tasted a cake like this for the first time recently, and thought it was reminiscent of a carrot cake, one of my favourites, but without nuts!

This is another recipe from an American paperback I brought back on one of my visits, 'Cakes my Mom used to make'. There are only a few photos in the book, and not one for this cake, so I had to use my imagination; the recipes are very basic so you need to work out exactly what you have to do - not really an ideal baking book.

It's a 3-layer cake, filled with an orange cream and covered in a chocolate cream cheese frosting - so not many calories!

Preheat oven 200C/gas6.
Prick 350g sweet potatoes [ 2 medium or 1 large] and put on a tray and bake for about an hour till very soft. Cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 180C/gas4
Peel the potatoes and purée them in a food processor [or mash them].

Grease and line 3x20cm cake tins.
Sift 360g sr flour into a bowl with 11/2 tspn cinnamon, 3/4 tspn ground nutmeg and 1/4 tspn ground cloves.
Separate 5 eggs and using a mixer, beat the whites till frothy. Gradually beat in 50g caster sugar.
In another bowl put the potato purée, 150g butter, 200g caster sugar and 1/1/2 tspn vanilla extract, and beat till light and fluffy. Add the 5 yolks one at a time, then add the flour mixture and 300 ml of milk, alternating between the 2, starting and ending with the dry mixture.
Fold in 1/4 of the egg whites with a spatula, then fold in the rest being very careful NOT to over mix.
Spoon the batter into the 3 tins and bake for 25-30 mins. Cool in the tins for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
300g cream cheese, 125g butter, 450g icing sugar - beat butter and cheese then add sieved icing sugar and beat till smooth and fluffy. Take out a cup of this frosting for the orange filling.
Add 45g melted chocolate and beat in.

Orange cream icing:
to the cup of reserved frosting add 2 tbspn orange juice and  1/2 tspn orange extract and beat together.

To assemble the cake:
Put one layer flat side down onto your serving plate. Spread half of the orange cream on top, add another cake layer and do the same. put the last cake layer on top and cover the top and sides with the chocolate cream cheese frosting.



The cake has a good texture, firm but moist; the sweet potato isn't dominant and the spices blend well together and add a lovely flavour to the cake. The orange cream is pleasant, but I think if I made this again I'd just make a bit more of the chocolate frosting and not bother with the orange one.
The chocolate cream frosting is sweet, but adds a luxury feel to the cake, especially as it's for a special occasion.
My OH didn't see me making the cake and couldn't guess what the unusual ingredient was in it.