Tag Archives: cake

Lemon and Raspberries Layer Cake

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I made this for Mr Greedy Frog’s birthday. We gathered a few friends and relatives and had a lovely, relaxed barbecue in our garden. This cake was the perfect conclusion to the meal: it is special enough to be a Birthday cake, yet it isn’t too fussy. And it is also very easy to make, which is always a bonus when you are entertaining. I made the sponge the night before, then made the filling and assembled the cake on the day. Easy, peasy!

You will need:

For the sponge:

225 g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

200 g caster sugar

200 g butter

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp milk

Zest 1 lemon

For the filling and topping:

400 g medium-fat soft cheese

Zest and juice 1 lemon

100 g icing sugar + 1 tbsp for dusting

4 tbsp lemon curd

200 g raspberries

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4. Line a deep, well-greased 18cm round tin.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into a large bowl and whisk until well combined (or use a stand mixer). Add the milk and gently stir it through.

Pour the batter into the tin, and bake for 50 to 60 min or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the tin for 10 min, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

When the cake has cooled down, make the filling. Beat the cream cheese, zest, juice and 100 g icing sugar until smooth. Reserve.

Cut the sponge into 3 layers of equal thickness. Spread the bottom layer with a third of the filling, top with the middle layer and more filling, then the top layer. Spread the remaining filling over the top of the cake, dollop the lemon curd all over, and finish with the raspberries. Dust with icing sugar.
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Rhubarb and Orange Cake

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You will need:

500 g rhubarb
4 eggs
200 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest 1 orange (thinly sliced or grated)
160 g self-raising flour
30 g chopped almonds
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
30 g butter (for the tin)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220ºC /fan 200ºC /Gas 7.

Butter a 20 cm Ø  springform tin, then line the base with buttered greaseproof paper.

Trim and peel the rhubarb, then cut into 1 cm cubes.
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Find a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over one of your medium-sized saucepans.

Bring some water to simmering point in the pan. Break the eggs into the bowl and add the sugar and the vanilla. Place the bowl on top of the pan of simmering water, and beat with an electric whisk for a few minutes until light and foamy.
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Take off the heat.

Sift the flour over the mix in batches, mixing gently in between. Whisk to a smooth consistency, then stir through the orange zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and tip the rhubarb over it. Press gently down on the rhubarb cubes to help them sink. Scatter the almonds over the top, then the golden caster sugar.

Bake for 30 to 35 min.

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The Post I Never Thought I Would Write: Christmas Pudding

Having grown up in France, Christmas pudding was an alien concept to me until a few years ago. I had heard tales of steamed puddings made months in advance, and containing some sort of animal fat, but I  just assumed it was one of those popular stories that have very little to do with reality. After all, us Frenchies are always ready to believe that our British friends would eat all sorts of weird concoctions… (Which is a bit ironic when you consider that we eat snails and frogs’ legs).

As it turns out though, the legend was true. I started coming across Christmas pudding recipes in all the food magazines I was buying during the run-up to my first Christmas in England. And there it was, among the numerous ingredients listed: shredded beef suet.  I won’t lie to you: my first reaction was made up of equal parts of disbelief and disgust. There was no way I was ever eating that!

hen one day, someone offered me a mince pie (another recipe I had never heard of before, more on this in a future post). I ate it, liked it, then discovered I had just consumed suet. And I had enjoyed it. This was when I decided that I would give Christmas pudding a go. But I wasn’t going to buy it; oh no, not I! I was going to make it. So off I went to the shops, I purchased a pudding basin, the dreaded shredded suet, and some brandy and set to work.

What I produced looked and smelt ok, but I had to wait a few weeks for Christmas to come round before I could taste it. In the meantime, I dutifully “fed” my pudding with more brandy at regular intervals, reasoning that even if it turned out to be revolting, it might at least get me a little bit tipsy…

The long-awaited day finally arrived, I reheated my pudding, and served it (not flambé, as I couldn’t find any matches). I took my first bite, and was instantly hooked. It was warm, rich, moist, had a lovely flavour, and yes, you could definitely taste the brandy. I did not tire of the leftovers either, in fact I was rather disappointed when we eventually finished it. Which is why I would encourage anyone to have a go at making this, especially if like me, you have a pre-conceived idea that it will be revolting.

 This is a James Martin recipe which I copied out from somewhere a few years ago (very, very vague credits, but credits nonetheless); I like it because of the ginger, which gives it a lovely, warm flavour. Enjoy!

Post-Christmas edit: I just thought I would let you all know that my family loved this pudding. Even my very sceptical Dad grudgingly admitted that it was “rather nice”. Not bad…

You will need (for 1×1.5l pudding):

175 g sultanas
175 g currants
70 g dried figs, chopped
50 g mixed peel
45 g glacé cherries, halved
50 g dried apricots, chopped
100 ml brandy
50 g stem ginger, chopped + 2 tbsp of their syrup
1 apple, grated
Juice + zest 1 orange
3 large eggs, beaten
125 g shredded suet
125 g fresh, white breadcrumbs
175 g light muscovado sugar
90 g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp mixed spice
Butter, for greasing

Method:

In a bowl, soak the sultanas, currants, figs, mixed peel, cherries and apricots with the brandy overnight.image

The following day, mix in a large bowl the ginger, syrup, apple, orange juice and zest, eggs, suet, breadcrumbs, sugar, flour and mixed spice. Mix in the soaked fruit.

Butter the pudding basin, fill with the mixture. Smooth the top and cover with a circle of greaseproof paper. Cover with a sheet of foil with a folded pleat down the centre, and secure it by tying it tightly with some string. Tie a loop of string on either side of the basin to act as handles.
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Stand the basin on top of an upturned saucer placed in a deep, large pan. Pour boiling water in the pan so it comes about a 1/3 of the way up. Cover and steam over a gentle heat for 5h, topping up with more water if necessary.

Cool the pudding in the pan, then remove foil and paper. Cover with cling film and store in a cool, dry place. Every so often, prick the surface with a skewer and drizzle a bit more brandy.

To reheat, steam for an hour or so.

To serve, heat up about 50 ml of brandy, pour over the pudding and light straight away with a match. Let the flames die down, then serve.

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Gone in 60 Seconds: Raspberry and Almond Cake

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Disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with stealing cars. If this is what you were looking for, try here instead. What this post is actually about, is cake, and how fast it disappears from the plate (just so we are clear).

I made this cake for my friend J. and her little girl E. who came to visit at Greedy Frog Towers today. I fancied a raspberry/almond combo, but I wasn’t really in the mood for a Bakewell tart so I came up with this instead.

We had some with a cup of tea when she arrived, then a little bit more as a dessert after lunch. It sounds like there should still be about half a cake, right? Wrong! One small slice is all that is left. Bearing in mind that Mr Greedy Frog only had one slice, this means that J. and me pretty much ate a whole cake between us…

Am I feeling guilty? Not one bit. Do I wish I had made two cakes instead of one? Hell, yes!

You will need:

100 g butter, softened
150 g unrefined caster sugar
3 eggs
75g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 large handful frozen raspberries
30 g flaked almonds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 210ºC/ fan 190ºC/ th 7. Butter a Ø26 cm cake tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, mixing thoroughly inbetween each addition. Add the flour, then the ground almonds and mix until smooth. Add the raspberries and mix gently (you don’t want to beak them up too much).

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, scatter the flaked almonds on top and bake for 20/25 min or until nice and golden on top, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.image

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How to Make Friends and Influence People: Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Cake

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Every so often, I find myself in a situation where I badly need a favour from someone. I tend to feel very guilty asking for favours, though; I am always worried of imposing on people. So I usually come up with a way of returning said favour, and this normally involves cake.

There are also times, like now, when I want to thank someone with more than words. And this, too, normally involves cake. In this instance, I wanted to repay my long-suffering work colleagues for their kindness. I applied for a promotion recently, and had an interview which went well, but despite the good feedback I received, the position was given to someone else. I was obviously very disappointed, and I must have looked rather upset because all my lovely colleagues have done since I found out, is try and cheer me up. They even went as far as saying that they were delighted that I didn’t get the job because it meant I wouldn’t have to leave the office, and would still be working with them.

I suspect that this statement was partially motivated by the fact that I do often bring cake to work, especially as I am always in need of testers when I am working on a new recipe. But I also know that they meant it. So, thanks guys, I am really glad to be working with all of you.

If, like me, you rely on cake to do the talking at times, then this is a great recipe to have up your sleeve. It is quick and easy to make, the ingredients are likely to be in your kitchen already, and it can convey a message pretty well.

You will need:

200g good quality dark chocolate
4 eggs
Pinch salt
150 g caster sugar
50 g plain flour
150g butter, at room temperature, + extra for the tin
A handful raspberries (frozen are fine)

Icing sugar, to serve.

Method:

If you are using frozen raspberries, take them out of the freezer and lay them out on a sheet of kitchen paper.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/ fan 180ºC/ gas 6. Butter a 26 cmØ cake tin, or deep tart tin (I use a fluted one, but a straight-edged one is fine too).

Break up the chocolate into even-sized chunks, place into a heatproof bowl. Find a pan on which the bowl can sit securely, with plenty of space between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the pan. Bring water to the boil in the pan, and place the chocolate on top, taking care that the bowl isn’t touching the water. Turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to melt for a few minutes without stirring.

Meanwhile, separate the eggs. Add a pinch of salt to the whites and whisk to stiff peaks.

Mix the butter and sugar until combined, but do not overmix (this will give the cake a fudge-like texture). Add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. add the egg yolks one by one, mixing all the while.

Add the flour and stir until incorporated. Add the egg whites a bit at a time, mixing delicately to avoid losing any of the air trapped inside them. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, scatter the raspberries on top (it doesn’t matter if they are still partially frozen), and press down gently on the fruit so it sinks into the batter a bit.

Bake for 20-25 min, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 min, then turn out onto a wire rack. When completely cool, sprinkle with icing sugar.

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Tart Up Your Cake: Cake Tatin

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I love Tarte Tatin. I think it is just about the best apple dessert in the known universe. I don’t know about you, but there is something about apples and caramel that makes me go a bit weak at the knees.

I also happen to be quite partial to cake, as you may have noticed from some of my previous posts. So it is only natural that I would try and come up with what would be the love child of saucy Ms Tatin and naughty Mr Cake.

This recipe is the result of a lot of trial and error. The trick was to figure out how to incorporate the caramel element into an apple cake.

I knew I couldn’t use a similar technique to Tarte Tatin: lining the cake tin with caramel wouldn’t work, as a cake needs baking for longer than a tart, and the result would just be a burnt, blackened mess.

I toyed with the idea of filling the cooled cake with some toffee cream, but this would just be a layer cake, and although probably delicious, this wasn’t what I was going for.

An attempt at caramelising the top of the cake at the end of the baking time wasn’t very successful: it looked good, but the taste wasn’t what I had in mind.

I realised that I needed the caramel to be baked in somehow, so the apples would take on the toffee flavour, like in Tarte Tatin. But I was a bit stuck as to how exactly I could achieve this.

And then I came across a recipe by Edd Kimber, for salted caramel brownies, where a salted caramel filling is baked between two layers of brownie dough.

I knew it wouldn’t work in quite the same way with apple cake, as the density of the batter is different to the one of brownie batter, and the caramel filling would end up mixing with the bottom layer during baking. And, guess what? This was exactly what I needed!

The next trial was a resounding success, and the addition of the butter and almond glaze ensured the top of the cake stayed moist and golden. So, with thanks to Mr Kimber, here is the recipe!

You will need:

For the salted caramel:
175g caster sugar (unrefined if possible)
A large pinch of sea salt flakes
150 ml double cream
10 g unsalted butter, softened.

For the cake:
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 apples
6 eggs of about 60 g each
360 g self-raising flour (or the same weight as the eggs; the same goes for the rest of the ingredients)
360 g caster sugar
360 g butter, softened

For the glaze:
100 g butter
3 tbsp sugar
50 g ground almonds

Method:

Make the caramel: in a large, non-stick frying pan, heat up the sugar over a medium heat until it melts.

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Try and avoid stirring at this stage as it would crystallise. Keep a close eye on it, and as soon as it takes on a dark copper colour, take it off the heat and add the salt and half the cream. Be very careful as it will bubble up fiercely, and caramel burns are very painful!

When the mixture has settled a bit, add the rest of the cream and the butter. (If your caramel is lumpy, put it back on a low heat and stir until smooth). Cool in a glass jug or bowl.

Peel the apples, then dice two of them and slice the other two.
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Preheat the oven to 190 C/ fan180 C/ gas 5-6. Butter a rectangular cake tin of 31 x 18 cm, line with baking paper, then lightly butter the baking paper (a tin with a removable bottom, or even better, with removable sides is ideal here; I use a Silverwood multi-size square tin which works brilliantly Alan Silverwood).

Make the cake batter: in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, then the eggs one by one, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Add half of the flour, mix thoroughly, then add the other half.

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Assemble the cake: Pour half the batter into the tin, then scatter the apple cubes on top, and press lightly with your fingers to make them “sink” a bit.

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Pour the caramel over the cake batter, being careful to avoid the sides. Try and spread it as evenly as you can, but it doesn’t need to be too neat.

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Now pour the rest of the batter over this, make sure you cover the caramel completely. Decorate the top with the apple slices, and push them in a bit.

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Put the cake tin into your preheated oven, and prepare the glaze. Gently melt the butter, then mix in the sugar and ground almonds. When the cake has been baking for 20 min, quickly pull it out of the oven, spread the glaze all over, and put in back into the oven. Do this as quickly as you can to avoid losing too much heat.

Leave the cake in for another 30 to 40 min (so 50 min to 1h in total), or until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out dry. If you think your cake is browning too quickly, cover the top with foil and continue baking.

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Cool in the tin for at least 20 min, then carefully remove it from the tin, remove the paper, and cool on a rack. Be very careful as this cake is very moist, and therefore quite fragile!

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If Al Pacino were a cake…(Chocolate Cake With A Crunchy Almond Crust)

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This cake is quite a bit like Al Pacino: at first glance, it doesn’t look like much. You wouldn’t really notice it on a cake stall, next to all the cupcakes and layer cakes, all tarted up in their rainbow-coloured frosting and sprinkles.

This cake is what you would call the underdog. But take a bite, and you will realise that it is every bit as bad ass as the star of “Scarface”.

And this is where the comparison ends, because adjectives such as moist, delicious, or moreish wouldn’t really apply to Mr Pacino. But you get the idea.

The beauty of this cake is that you get the crunchy almonds on top, which contrast wonderfully with the soft chocolate cake.

You will need:

125 g dark chocolate (ideally at least 70% cocoa solids)
125 g unsalted butter, softened
125 g self-raising flour
250 g sugar
5 eggs
50 g flaked almonds
A few drops natural almond extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 C/ fan 190 C/ gas 6. Butter a metal cake tin (I use a rectangular one of 31×18 cm), and scatter the flaked almonds over the bottom.image

Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave, or in a pan on a low heat, with a drop of milk. When melted, mix with the butter in a large bowl.

Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, mix thoroughly, then add the sugar. Mix energetically for a few minutes, to ensure your cake is light and fluffy. Add the flour and the almond extract.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, and add gradually to the chocolate mixture, mixing very delicately.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for 20 to 30 min or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (the cooking time will depend on the depth of your cake tin).image

Have a slice with a cup of tea or coffee. Then another one. And I guarantee you that you will want a slice for breakfast, too!

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