Wednesday 22 January 2014

Mincemeat Cake

A perfect way to use up leftover mincemeat from Christmas, giving you a lovely dark and fruity cake with baked crumble topping. It's delicious and easy to make - and falls into that stress free 'all-in-one-bowl' category of baking.

Mincemeat Cake

175g self raising flour (sifted)
150g light brown sugar
100g unsalted butter, softened
100ml milk
200g mincemeat (I used my homemade)
2 eggs, beaten
zest of 1 orange

For the topping:
200g mincemeat
50g light muscovado sugar
50g flaked almonds
1 tbsp plain flour
25g butter, cubed

Heat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4). Grease and line the base of a 20cm (8in) cake tin. Place the cake ingredients into a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients in a bowl. Carefully remove the cake from the oven and gently spoon over the topping (don't go all the way to the edges) and take extra care to make sure it doesn't sink into the cake.

 Return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cover loosely with foil or baking parchment for the last 10 minutes to prevent it colouring too much.

Leave in the tin for about 15 minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Apple Crumble Cake

This lovely recipe comes courtesty of Nicola at Cookies Cakes and Bakes. This cake is a simple but really delicious and can either be served as a slice with a cuppa or with a bowl of hot yummy custard.


Apple Crumble Cake

100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3-4 medium eating or cooking apples, cored, peeled and sliced

For crumble topping:
60g cold butter
50g plain flour
50g soft light brown sugar or demeara

Grease and base line a 20cm springform tin. Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC fan/gas mark 4.

Cream the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time and add vanilla. Sift the self-raising flour and cinnamon into the mixture and fold in gently. Pour into the tin and place the sliced apples on top of the batter.

For the crumble, rub the butter and flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs, stir in the sugar. Or you could use a food processor which is quicker. Sprinkle the crumble all over the cake and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and the sides are shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes, then unclip tin carefully and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Great as a cake or served warm with custard or ice cream.

Friday 15 March 2013

Chocolate Fudge Cake

I've neglected my blog recently but I'm back and hope to blog more regular. I have still been baking and cooking but I post about it all on my Facebook page. I find it's quicker and I don't have to do a  big write up like on here, not that I have to on here but you get my drift. If you haven't joined my Facebook page, please do so and say hello. 

I baked this cake for Mother's Day last Sunday, a favourite in our home and always a hit, my boys loved it. This weekend I am baking the obligatory Chocolate Guinness Cake or cupcakes for St Paddy's Day. 

Have a great weekend and I will be back next week to blog my Guinness cake.

Chocolate Fudge Cake


For the cake:
400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light brown muscovado sugar
50g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 medium eggs
142ml sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml corn oil
300ml water, chilled

For the fudge icing:
175g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
250g unsalted butter, softened
275g icing sugar, sieved
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/gas mark 4.
Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you'll need another large bowl for this if using the hand whisk; the freestanding mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins. And actually, you could easily do this manually.
Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave - 2-3 minutes on medium should do it - or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
In another bowl beat the butter until it's soft and creamy (again, I use the KitchenAid here) and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything's light and fluffy. I know sieving is a pain, the one job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing sugar will be unsoothingly lumpy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.

Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing sugar, and then ice the top and sides too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Gingerbread Cupcakes

For me December is my favorite time of the year for baking, I just love Christmas and all that it brings. The festive baking and the christmassy aromas have definitely arrived in my kitchen, there's no need for scented candles when baking is under way. These gingerbread cupcakes are a great continuation of this years Christmas baking. They were precceded by Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies, which are always a must bake and Sticky Gingerbread, both from Nigella's Christmas coobook. I love gingerbread on it's own but had never tried it with a frosted topping. The buttercream frosting worked wonderfully against the dark spicy sponge, which I finished off with a sprinkling of cute gingerbread men. These cupcakes were a huge hit with hubby's work colleagues and didn't last long. Definitely a recommended bake!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Makes 12

75g unsalted butte, softened
100g caster sugar
125ml black treacle
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
175g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125ml hot milk

For the buttercream:
120g butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Gingerbread men sprinkles

For the gingerbread cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 175oC/fan oven 155oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

In a large bowl cream the butter with the sugar. Add the treacle and the egg and egg yolk.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and salt.

Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the hot milk.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the hot milk mixture.

Spoon the batter evenly into the cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly springy to the touch.

Allow to cool for a few mins in the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the buttercream: Cream the butter in a clean, large bowl until smooth, gradually add the icing sugar and continue to cream until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the milk and cream until combined. Add 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon and mix.

Spread the buttercream or pipe onto the cupcakes and decorate with mini gingerbread men.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake

Autumn has definitely arrived, with the days getting shorter and the nights getting colder; it's the perfect time to cook and bake delicious comfort foods. Blackberry and Apple is a classic autumnal combo of flavours and one we always enjoy in our household, whether it be in a crumble, cake or muffins. I have previously made similar versions of this cake but I could not pass up this recipe from one of my current favourite cookbooks, "A Passion for Baking". This loaf cake was everything I imagined it would be and more. I cannot begin to describe how absolutely delicious it was. It has definitely made its mark and resides in my top 5 bakes. A must bake!

Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake

Serves 6

60g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
80g plain flour
2 heaped tbsp demerara sugar

170g self-raising flour
170g unsalted butter, softened
170g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
170g (prepared weight) apples such as Braeburns or Cox's, peeled, cored and diced
70g blackberries

You will also need a 900g (2lb) loaf tin, the inside buttered and the base and ends lined with a strip of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

Combine the topping ingredients: rub the butter into the flour and sugar either in a food processor using the pulse button or with your hands. Once the mixture reaches a crumble-type consistency, put it to one side while you make the cake batter.

Tip the flour, butter, sugar and eggs into a bowl and, either using a free-standing mixer or an electric hand whisk, beat until really light and creamy. Gently fold in the diced apples and blackberries using a large metal spoon.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread level and sprinkle over the crumble topping in an even layer.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes away cleanly.

Cool the cake in the tin for about 5 minutes and then carefully lift it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

I was so excited when I found out Nigella Lawson was releasing a new book, Nigellissima, I even pre-ordered it on amazon. Unfortunately it has not captured me in the way some of her previous cookbooks have, I had the same feeling with her other book Nigella Express. In reading the recipes a lot of them don't appeal to me or my taste, sorry mackerel in pasta doesn't do it for me! Another disappointment was the lack of bakes and desserts in the book, I was expecting more. I decided to bake this Italian breakfast banana bread as my first recipe, I liked the addition of espresso and it really worked well. I enjoyed a slice for breakfast and it was even nicer dipped in my coffee. It's definitely a recipe I would recommend trying and one I will make again. As much as I'm on the fence about this cookbook I will try more recipes and report back!

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

Cuts into 8-10 slices

150ml flavourless vegetable oil, plus some for greasing
3 medium bananas, very ripe
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 eggs
150g caster sugar
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp instant espresso powder

1 x 450g/1lb deep loaf tin

Slip a baking sheet into the oven, and preheat the to 170oC/150oC fan oven/gas mark 3. Get out a loaf tin, and line it with baking parchment or a loaf liner, or lightly oil it.

Mash the bananas with the vanilla extract and salt and then beat in the oil.

Now, beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the sugar.

Mix the flour with the bicarb and espresso powder, and beat these dry ingredients into the runny batter.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tin, and pop it into the oven, on the baking sheet, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until slightly coming away at the sides and bulgingly risen.

Wednesday 19 September 2012


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially after an early morning workout at the gym. I can be guilty, like a lot of people, of "having" and not "enjoying" breakfast, due to habit or a busy schedule. Yes, we can all pick up a box from our local supermarket but it is very satisfying to sit down to enjoy a bowl of tasty home-made granola. This is a simple recipe and one that you can adapt with your personal choice of ingredients. I love mine served with cold milk or it would work equally well with natural yoghurt. Once you've tried the home-made variety you will wonder why you never made your own before. This granola will keep good for a month in an airtight container.


Serves 12

300g rolled oats
4 heaped tbsp regular shop-bought apple sauce
4 heaped tbsp clear/runny honey
1 tbsp golden/maple syrup
3 tbsp oil (sunflower or non-virgin olive oil)
60g soft dark brown sugar (or light if you prefer)
4 heaped tbsp dessicated coconut
60g mixed nuts (almonds, pecans or hazelnuts) roughly chopped
100g dried fruits (apricots, cherries, cranberries, pineapple pieces, anything you like really), chopped

Preheat the oven to 170oC/150oC fan oven/325oF/Gas Mark 3.

Mix all the ingredients together, except for the dried fruit, in a large roomy bowl. Make sure that the oats are well coated in the honey, syrup and oil.

Turn the mixture out into a large baking tray in a single layer; shake the tray slightly so that you have some clumps and some smaller bits.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes until golden. You will need to keep stirring and jiggling the granola around while it bakes so that is browns evenly.

Once baked, remove from the oven, add the chopped dried fruits and stir to combine. Leave to cool completely and then store in an airtight container. It will keep for a good month.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately but hubby and I have been away on holiday for a much needed break and to celebrate both of us turning 40 in August. We had a lovely time away in the Cotswolds, a beautiful part of England, where we rented a log cabin with outdoor hot tub, which we used every evening after a day of exploring. While away we enjoyed lovely pub lunches/dinners all made from wonderful local produce. On the topic of birthdays, I made this amazing chocolate cake for my hubby's birthday. The recipe is from a Passion for Baking and like all the recipes I've tried from this book, this cake did not disappoint. This is the perfect birthday cake and I'll definitely be baking this again!

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Serves 8-10

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 bicarbonate of soda
30g cocoa
2 tbsp full-fat milk
100g good-quality dark chocolate, melted

200g dark chocolate
100 milk chocolate
250ml double cream

1 large packet of Maltesers

You will need 2 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and the bases lined with buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

In a bowl of a free-standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and milk, then mix until combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix again until smooth.

Divide equally between the prepared sandwich tins, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 22-25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes. Turn the cakes out of the tins onto a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.

To make the ganache, finely chop both the dark and milk chocolates and tip into a saucepan along with the double cream. Set the pan over a low heat to melt, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour the ganache into a shallow dish, cool and then chill to firm.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cakes on a cake or serving plate and spoon half of the ganache on the cake and spread. Then scatter with crushed Maltesers.

Cover the top of the second cake layer with ganache, spreading it smoothly with a palette knife. Sandwich the two caes together and finish off with a good scattering of Maltesers.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I have so many recipes to blog about but I'm lacking motivation, so please bare with me. I will also be away on holidays at the end of August but will be blogging as much as possible before I go. This Lemon Drizzle Cake I baked a few weeks ago and it went down a storm with my hubby. I often stick to my favoured recipe but was in the mood to try something different. This cake is simple, not overly rich, light and airy and has a triple hit of lemon. Definitely a winner and one I will bake again!

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Serves 8

225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
lemons, 3 zested and 2 juiced
4 medium eggs, lightly whisked
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder

50g ground almonds

For the syrup:
remaining lemon juice
85g caster sugar

For the Lemon icing drizzle:
75g icing sugar
lemon juice

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line the base of a 20cm round cake tin. Beat the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl using an electric hand whisk until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest (reserving some for decoration) and mix well. Whisk the eggs gradually into the butter mixture, beating well between each addition - don't worry if it curdles.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake mixture using a large metal spoon or spatula. Add the ground almonds and 3/4 of the lemon juice and fold until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out without any raw mix on it.

Put the cake tin on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the remaining lemon juice and caster sugar and heat in a saucepan until the sugar has melted. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle on the cake. Cool in the tin for a further 30 minutes and then remove from the tin. Once the cake is cold, mix the icing sugar with a few teaspoons of lemon juice and drizzle over the top of the cake.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been enjoying the cooler weather this weekend and took the opportunity to try out a few more recipes from A Passion for Baking. I'm really enjoying this book as you can tell and every recipe has turned out wonderful and gone down a treat. I love baking cookies and have my favourite but my love of baking includes trying out new recipes. These cookies jumped out from the page and screamed, "bake me", so I couldn't resist! They were easy to make and the end result is a yummy soft and chewy cookie, with gorgeous chunks of chocolate nuggets.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g light soft brown sugar
125g demerara sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
200g dark chocolate chunks

You will also need 2-3 baking trays covered with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 170oC/150oC fan oven/325oF/gas mark 3.

Cream the butter and both of the sugars together in a free-standing machine until pale, light and fluffy.

Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the vanilla extract and mix again.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt into the bowl and mix again until thoroughly combined. Fold the chocolate chunks into the cookie dough.

Use either an ice-cream scoop or large spoon (I used my hands and rolled them into balls) to scoop the dough into even-sized mounds. Place 3-4 cookies on each baking tray, allowing plenty of space between each cookie as they will spread during cooking.

Bake the cookies in batches on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sharply bang the baking tray on the work surface to deflate the cookies, then return to the oven for a further 5-7 minutes until pale golden brown.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks until cold. 

Friday 27 July 2012

Raspberry Torte

Finally looks like summer has arrived in the UK after weeks of constant rain, although I have to admit I find the heat draining and makes me so lethargic. I've really been enjoying my latest cookbook purchase, A Passion for Baking and have tried quite a few recipes, which I plan to blog along the way. One of the recipes was this beautiful Raspberry Torte, which seemed like the perfect summery cake to make and enjoy for afternoon tea in the garden. It's moist and full of flavour with burst of raspberry and tastes even better the next day.

Raspberry Torte

Serves 8

150g self-raising flour
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
2 large eggs, beaten
150g fresh raspberries, plus extra to serve
icing sugar to dust

You will also need a 23cm cake tin, buttered and the base lined with a disc of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

Tip the flour, soft butter, sugar, ground almonds and eggs into a bowl and beat together until pale, light and fluffy.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and spread level with a palette knife. Push the raspberries, pointy side up, into the batter.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour, checking the cake after 45 minutes and covering it loosely with foil once it has browned to prevent the top colouring too much.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer the torte to a cooling rack until cold. Scatter with extra raspberries and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Blueberry Muffin Loaf

It's been a while since I treated myself to a new cookbook and I thought it was time to add to my collection. I read great reviews on Jo Wheatley's "A Passion for Baking" and so I headed to Sainsburys to buy a copy. Jo was the winner of The Great British Bake Off in 2011 and her book is testament to why she won. I love this book, it has so many wonderful delicious recipes, that I can't wait to try. I decided to make the Blueberry Muffin Loaf as my first recipe. This lovely loaf with it's moist sponge is bursting with flavours and textures and it's definitely a must bake! Watch this space for more recipes from this must have book.

 Blueberry Muffin Loaf

25g plain flour
20g unsalted butter, diced
20g caster sugar

200g self-raising flour, sieved
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g soft brown sugar
50g caster sugar
70g unsalted butter, melted
160ml full-fat milk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
130g blueberries

You will need a greased 900g/2lb loaf tin, the base and ends lined with a strip of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven 180oC/160oc fan oven/gas mark 4.

Make the topping first. Tip the flour, butter and sugar into a bowl and, using your fingers rub the butter into the flour until it resembles a crumble mixture. Alternatively you can do what I do and add the ingredients a food processor and pulse.

To make the loaf, sieve the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, add both of the sugars and mix well.

Melt the butter, leave to cool slightly and then mix with the milk, egg and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and egg mixture. Using a large metal spoon, fold the two mixtures together until only just combined. Fold the blueberries into the mixture, making sure not to overmix the batter as this will result in a heavy sponge.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, scatter over the crumble topping and bae on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until golden, well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Revisited Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake

This loaf cake evokes fond memories of my dearest friend Jules who sadly passed away a few years ago. This was a recipe we all baked as one of our monthly group events at "Sweet and Simple Bakes", a baking blog Jules and I ran together. I sometimes like to bake her recipes as a way of remembering her and what a fantastic baker she was. This Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake is certainly a testament to the amazing cakes Jules baked. The sponge is fluffy, light and very moist, with the chocolate and orange blending together perfectly! If you find the orange/chocolate combo irresistible, then this is a “must” bake!!

Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake

For The cake
175g (6 oz) softened butter
175g (6 oz) caster (super fine) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp milk

For The Orange Syrup
Juice of 1 orange
100g (4 oz) granulated sugar

For The Topping
50g (2 oz) dark chocolate or milk chocolate – your choice
Sprinkles of choice (optional)

You will need a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin – greased with a little butter and lined with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy in appearance. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well until fully incorporated. Add the orange zest, flour and milk and fold in gently with a spatula or large metal spoon. Turn into the prepared tin, smooth the top of the mixture and bake in the oven on middle shelf 35 -45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When cool make little holes in the cake with a skewer, (this is important for pouring the syrup onto the cake to ensure the syrup soaks in fully.)

For The Orange Syrup
Put the orange juice and granulated sugar into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for a couple of minutes. Pour over the top of the cake. When all the juice has soaked in, carefully remove the cake from the tin.

For The Topping
Melt the chocolate by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, pour over the top of the cake. Either smooth the top over with a spatula or make a little pattern with the prongs of a fork. Add sprinkles if desired, leave chocolate to set before cutting into the cake.