Honey almond cake with macerated strawberries

Honey almond cake with macerated strawberries

I know me going on about how amazing Romania is may be getting a little tired now, but to be honest I don’t care – I loved it there and I want everyone to know!

Among the many, many delicious foods we ate there, the fresh strawberries and acacia honey we ate at the farm of Gabriel, one of our hosts, really stuck out, and as I was eating I knew when I returned home the combination would have to be recreated in some sort of cake form.

When I saw this post by The Little Loaf, I knew straight away it was the recipe I was looking for – a really simple cake that could let the delicate flavour of the honey shine through, with slightly sauced strawberries to serve alongside.

Gabriel very kindly gave me a bottle of his honey to bring home, and I can honestly say it is better than any honey I have ever bought in this country. To up the flavour of the honey, instead of making The Little Loaf’s spiced strawberries, I simply macerated them in honey and a squeeze of orange juice, bringing out all the natural sweetness and juices of the strawberries.

I think this cake may be the perfect marriage of cultures – Romanian honey meets British strawberries, to create the perfect cake to enjoy in the summer sun.

Honey Almond Cake with Macerated Strawberries (adapted from The Little Loaf)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g acacia honey
  • 135g low fat yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 60g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 500g strawberries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • juice of 1/2 orange

Start by whisking the eggs until light and tripled in volume, then whisk in the honey, yoghurt and vanilla. Sift together all the dry ingredients (try to get the ground almonds as fine as you can) and fold into the liquid mixture. Pour into a greased and lined 8″ cake tin and bake at 165 degrees for around 25 minutes, or until golden and springy.

For the strawberries, wash, hull and halve them then add to a bowl with the honey and orange juice. Leave for an hour or more at room temperature for the juices to come out. Serve slices of the cake with a spoonful of strawberries on top, and a little thick to finish.

tea time treatscalendar-cakes

‘Tis the season for summer fruits, and they’ve been chosen as the July theme for both Tea Time Treats, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and the newlywed Kate at What Kate Baked, and for Calendar Cakes, hosted by Laura at Laura Loves Cakes and Rachel at Dolly Bakes – so I’m entering this cake for them both!


Caramel apple and almond tart

Caramel apple and almond tart

As soon as I saw this tart posted over on Apple & Spice, I knew it had to be baked.

How could apples, caramel and frangipane ever be a bad combination?!

As I suspected, the three made very happy companions in their sweet pastry case; so much so that the pony devoured the tart at record speed and I barely got a look in.

The tiny sliver of this I did manage to steal wasn’t anywhere near enough,  and I will definitely have to make it again in the near future so I can have a proper slice.

I changed Katie’s pasty recipe to my usual sweet shortcrust as I didn’t need it to be gluten free, but if you are on a GF diet I would definitely give hers a go. I also left out the peanut brittle, just because I didn’t have any, but to be honest I think the tart is special enough without.

Served warm it’s definitely more of a winter dessert, but I think it would also work well cold as we finally move into spring – either way it’s a winner!

Caramel apple and almond tart (adapted from Apple & Spice)

For the pastry:

  • 125g plain flour
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 65g butter

For the filling:

  • 150g tinned caramel (about half a tin of Carnation)
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • 55g butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 10g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

To make the pastry, rub together the butter and flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add cold water a teaspoonful at a time, cutting through the mixture with a knife, adding more water until it starts to clump together. Use your hands to squash the dough into a ball, then chill in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a fluted flan dish – I think mine is about 10″ which makes quite a shallow tart.

Chill the pastry for another half hour, then blind bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, or until golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes, then spread the caramel in an even layer all over the bottom.

For the filling, beat together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and almond extract. Fold in the almonds and flour, then spread this on top of the caramel. Peel, core and slice the apples, then arrange in a fanned out pattern on top of the tart. Katie’s top tip is to keep the apples in a bowl of iced water with a drop of lemon juice in to stop them going brown while you’re chopping the rest – it works well!

Sprinkle the tablespoon of caster sugar over the top of the tart, then bake at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes – check it’s done by poking a knife into one of the apple slices, if it’s cooked it will slide through with no resistance. Serve warm or cold, up to you!

Frangipane chocolate bundt cake

Frangipane chocolate bundt cake

Bundt cakes have always been my arch nemesis when it comes to baking.

No matter how well greased and/or floured, no matter how hard I bashed the tin or how gently I tried to coax them out, every bundt I made resolutely stuck to the bottom of the tin, resulting in excessive icing to cover its flaws.

I have absolutely no idea what I did differently, but this time I finally defeated the evil bundt! I was pretty sceptical as I was turning it out, as it didn’t just drop nicely onto the plate as soon as I inverted the tin (a girl can dream, right?!) but after running a plastic spatula around the edges I was able to tempt it out – in one piece, with no bits left stuck to the tin!

I would have been happy to stop right there, leave the cake uneaten and just marvel at its perfectly formed beauty, but the pony’s stomach was rumbling, so I gave it a quick dusting of icing sugar and cut the first slice.

Unfortunately, what should have been a frangipane ripple in the chocolate cake had blended into the sponge and completely disappeared, which was a shame for the appearance but meant that the lovely almondy flavour was spread throughout the cake, so overall I wasn’t too upset.

This was especially good served a la pony – warm with cream or custard – but would be equally good served at room temperature with a cup of tea of coffee to help see you through the afternoon.

I’m now filled with a new-found bundt confidence so the tin will be coming out again soon – whether the success can be repeated remains to be seen though…

Oh, and my oven is STILL broken so I have to say a massive thank you to next door neighbour Jo for allowing this cake an hour in hers!

Frangipane chocolate bundt cake (recipe adapted from Technicolor Kitchen)

For the frangipane filling:

  • 33g ground almonds
  • ½ cup almond paste – I used this recipe but cut the quantities by 3
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 56g butter

For the cake:

  • 230g plain flour
  • 30g cornflour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch teaspoon salt
  • 280g butter
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 240ml semi skimmed milk

Start by making the frangipane filling – add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until well combined. Leave in the fridge to chill while you make the cake.

Get your tin ready by greasing WELL and dusting with cocoa powder, and sift together the flour, cornflour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Beat  the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. Sift in a third of the flour mix and fold in, followed by half of the milk and fold again. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, so you finish with the final third of the flour.

At this point, you should pour about 1/3 of the chocolate mix into the tin, then spread half the frangipane on top; pour in another third and spread with the remaining frangipane, then finish with the final third of the chocolate mix. However, given that mine all mixed together anyway you could just fold the frangipane into the chocolate mix and pour it all in together!

Bake at 180 degrees for about an hour, or until risen, springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out onto a plate by whatever means necessary! Dust with icing sugar and cut into slices to serve.

bookmarked recipes new logo


I’ve had this recipe bookmarked from Technicolor Kitchen for almost a year, so I’m entering it into the January Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes – head over on the last Sunday of the month to see what everyone else has been making!

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls

Sorry, sorry, I know we’re in January now and the ‘C’ word shouldn’t be mentioned for another 48 weeks, but these rolls were so stupidly good I just have to post them now.

I wanted to make something special and a bit festive for the pony to have for breakfast, and inspired by some stolen flavoured cinnamon rolls (that I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw) and the Great British Bake Off Christmas special I came up with these.

I used Paul Hollywood’s recipe for the dough, then created by own filling of ground almonds, glace cherries and chocolate orange bits. The rolls were finished off with a cranberry glaze, which for some reason went perfectly and meant I kept sneaking back to the cake dome again and again…

I definitely doesn’t need to be Christmas to make these but it’s quite likely they will be back on my festive menu for 2013!

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls (basic recipe from BBC Food)

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 20g butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 75ml lukewarm milk
  • 45ml lukewarm water
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 100g chocolate orange segments, chopped
  • 50g (ish) chopped glace cherries
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cranberry sauce

Add the flour, caster sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, then make a well in the centre for the butter, egg, yeast and warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon until it all starts to come together into a sticky dough, then tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Leave to rise in a covered bowl for an hour, or until doubled in size. Knock the dough back then roll out on a floured surface into a large rectangle (I would guess about 16″ x 10″). Mix the ground almonds and sugar together and sprinkle all over the dough, then scatter the chopped cherries and chocolate on top. Roll the dough up from the long edge nearest to you into a big sausage shape, then slice into 8 rounds, about 2″ thick.

Place the rolls in an 8×8 square tin, a couple of centimetres apart, and leave to rise for another hour until doubled again and the rolls are all touching. Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden and smelling amazing. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar and cranberry sauce and add just enough water to make a thick icing. Pour over the rolls while still warm and serve straight away!

Chocolate orange spice cake (GF)

I bought Levi Roots’ Food for Friends cookbook a little while ago on a whim, and I’m so glad I did – every recipe I’ve tried so far has been a resounding success. The recipes are simple, and usually only use a few ingredients, but are packed full of flavour (as you’d expect from a Caribbean chef I suppose!)

The cakes and desserts section is also more extensive than I would have imagined, which is always a good thing in my book.

This chocolate orange spice cake caught my eye, not only because of the delicious combination of flavours but also the fact that it’s gluten and wheat free. Add to that the fact it doesn’t have any butter or oil, and use half fat creme fraiche for the topping, and it’s practically a health food!

I did change it up a bit, using ground almonds rather than toasting and grinding my own, using less of them because I didn’t buy enough, swapping sour cream for the creme fraiche and adding some extra spice to the topping – but I think that just goes to prove it’s a very forgiving recipe!

The cake went down very well when I took it into work, and the pony is now enjoying what’s left of it for his breakfasts. I ma have to sneak one more slice tonight before it’s all gone though…

Chocolate orange spice cake (adapted from Levi Roots’ Food for Friends)

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds

For the topping:

  • 140g dark chocolate
  • 140g half fat creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp hot chilli powder

Start by finely grating the dark chocolate into a bowl (yep, it’s a pain) and add to that the cinnamon and orange zest, then set aside.

Add half of the sugar (85g) to a fairly large bowl with the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture, orange juice and ground almonds and beat again – you will have a pretty thick mixture, a bit like frangipane. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, gradually adding in the remaining 85g caster sugar, until it forms stiff glossy peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture a quarter at a time, making sure it’s well combined but you don’t beat the air out of the air whites. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 8″ round cake tin and bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour, or until risen and pulling away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

To make the topping, put all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl and heat over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so, then spread over the top of the cake. Leave to firm up a bit before cutting into slices and serving.

Chocolate, pear and almond crostata

This weekend, my next door neighbour had an Italian-themed dinner party for her birthday.

When I say dinner, what I actually mean is feast – I don’t think I’ve ever seen such food, or had a meal that went on for so long! There was olives, breadsticks, dips and salad, followed by a selection of breads, then two types of amazing pasta with courgettes, tomatoes and more salad and bread, then an amazing tiramisu, raspberries and strawberries, and finally a huge cheeseboard with crackers, apples and grapes – just reading back through the list makes me feel full again!

Everyone was asked to bring something, and I obviously volunteered a dessert to go with the tiramisu.

I scoured some Italian cookbooks at the library for an authentic recipe, and settles on a ‘crostata di pere a cioccolato’ from Italy – Sea to Sky by Ursula Ferrigno (which is a really gorgeous book for both savoury and sweet recipes).

It looked and sounded absolutely beautiful as it was, but it included a layer of marmalade in the bottom, which as my neighbour is allergic to oranges I decided to swap for a layer of almond paste, as I thought chocolate-pear-almond would be a good combination.

The resulting tart was exactly how I wanted it to be – rich enough that you only need a small slice, crisp pastry, subtle almond, super chocolatey, and a nice fruity contrast from the pears. It also smelt amazing when it came out of the oven, and it seemed to go down well with the other guests which is always a good sign!

I’m entering this to the May We Should Cocoa challenge, which this month was set by Laura of How To Cook Good Food, who chose almonds – a classic, delicious partner for chocolate.

Chocolate, pear and almond crostata (recipe adapted from Italy – Sea to Sky by Ursula Ferrigno)

Serves 12

For the pastry

  • 55g butter
  • 115g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg

For the filling

  • 4 small pears, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 3/4 cup almond paste (I used a recipe from Technicolor Kitchen)
  • 115g dark chocolate
  • 55g butter
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 115g caster sugar

To make the pastry, rub together the butter and flour with your fingers until the mixture forms a breadcrumb texture. Sift in the cocoa and sugar, mix in, then add the egg a little at a time until the mixture binds together and can be kneaded into a dough. Wrap the ball of dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Grease and flour a 10″ fluted flan tin, then roll out the dough thinly and use to line the tin. Press down into the sides, then use a rolling pin to roll over the top to evenly trim the sides of the pastry. Put back in the fridge while you prepare the almond paste, pears and filling.

Spread a thin layer of almond paste all over the base, taking care to not to rip the pastry. Arrange the quartered pears on top in a ring.

To make the filling, melt the chocolate and butter together over a low heat and set aside. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, then fold in the eggs whites – add a third of the whites first to loosen the mix, then fold in the rest.

Spread over the pears and the tart base, then bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes, until firm to the touch. Leave for 10 minutes to cool before removing from the tin, dust with a little icing sugar, then either serve hot or leave to cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Peshwari naans

Slightly fed up with the never ending stream of sweet treats that I really shouldn’t eat sitting around in the kitchen to tempt me, this weekend I decided to do some savoury baking (as well as a chocolate truffle pie for the pony which I’ll blog about soon!)

A little while ago, I attempted some curried naans for my first ever Random Recipes challenge. They turned out ok, but I wasn’t too impressed with the frying method, so this time I decided to try a baked recipe.

The basic naan dough is really simple, and you could add in whatever flavours you want – if I go to an Indian restaurant I usually order a peshwari naan which is what inspired the flavours in this.

I would definitely make these again, although possibly with apple sauce added to the filling for a bit of extra moistness and sweetness- I’ve seen it in a couple of recipes and thought it sounded quite interesting, so if anyone has tried it and can let me know if it works that would be great!

Peshwari naans (adapted from Curry Focus)

Makes 3

  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried yeast
  • 250g plain white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 75ml warm water
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 3 tbsp sultanas

Note – you need to start this in the morning to be ready for dinner!

Dissolve the sugar in the 2tbsp warm water, then sprinkle the yeast on top and leave for 20 minutes. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture, yoghurt and water. Bring the mixture together using your hands, then turn out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until soft and pliable. Put the ball of dough back in the bowl, cover with lightly oiled clingfilm and leave for 6 hours to rise.

After 6 hours, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times to knock the air out. Divide into three pieces, then roll each out into a square-ish sort of shape. Sprinkle one tbsp of almonds, coconut and sultanas in the middle of each.

Fold in the corners of each piece of dough to cover the filling and pinch together the edges. Turn over, and roll out again, into a roughly tear-drop shaped flat bread. Prick with a fork then place on a baking tray.

Bake at your oven’s hottest temperature for about 10 minutes, turning half-way through, then finish off under a hot grill to brown each side. Serve with an Indian dish of your choice – we had them with a vegetable biryani and it was delicious!

Easter chick orange and almond flourless cupcakes (GF)

I’ll admit, the title of these cupcakes is a bit of a mouthful, but I just didn’t think there was any part of it that could be missed out.

Obviously the flavour needs to be in there – orange and almond; the type of baked good – cupcake; the fact they can be enjoyed by people with wheat and gluten allergies – flourless; and of course the theme that inspired them and gives them their cuteness – Easter chicks!

I knew I wanted to bake something Easter-themed this week, but also wanted it to be something my wheat intollerant colleague could enjoy too.

I found these orange and almond cupcakes which looked gorgeous, and then the marzipan chicks just seemed to go perfectly, both in flavour and colour!

The cupcakes themselves were really good – dense yet light and kept well for days. The white chocolate topping nicely balances out the slight bitterness from the orange, and the chicks – well, just look at them and their cute little faces!

I made these on Sunday, so was delighted when on Monday Kate from What Kate Baked announced Easter as the theme for April’s Tea Time Treats challenge (following a brilliant scone round up on Lavender and Lovage) – these are my entry!

Easter chick orange and almond flourless cupcakes (recipe adapted from My Food Trail)

Makes 8 cupcakes

  • 1 whole orange
  • 140g ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 40g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 medium/large eggs
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 50g double cream

Boil the orange for an hour and a quarter (bit tedious but worth it) then blitz in a food processor until no lumps remain and set aside. Sift together the almonds and baking powder into a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time, using an electric whisk. Add half the almonds, then the orange pulp, then the rest of the almonds, beating until well combined.

Line a cupcake tin with 8 cases, then divide the mixture between them – they should fill about 3/4 of the way up as they don’t rise much. Bake at 160 degrees for 45 minutes, until the tops look dry and craggy (don’t worry, they’re not overcooked and will be deliciously moist inside!)

Melt together the chocolate and cream, then leave to cool. Once it’s thickened but still pourable, spread on top of the cupcakes.

For the chicks (makes 12):

  • 225g golden marzipan
  • 2 or 3 drops red food colouring

Take 1/2 of the block of marzipan and divide into 12 equally sized pieces. Roll each into a slightly long oval ball, then pinch at one end to make tail of the chicks. Take half of the remaining marzipan (1/4 of the original block) and divide into 24 equally sized pieces. Roll each into a ball then press down to flatten out into wings, then press onto the sides of the chick bodies.

With the last quarter of the marzipan, add a couple drops of the red food colouring and mix in well to make an orange colour. Pinch of 12 very small bits to mould into cone shaped beaks, and attach to the faces of the chicks using a little dab of water. Divide the rest of the orange marzipan into 12 pieces, roll into balls and flatten out into circles. Use a knife to cut half way up each circle to create feet, then attach to the bodies again using a dab of water.

Use a cocktail stick to make indentations for the eyes, and there you have it – Easter chick cupcake toppers!

Apple and blackberry frangipane tart

This is my entry for Kate’s Autumnal Baking Challenge – an amazing idea as I think autumn may be my favourite season for baking!

I’ve made quite a few things recently that probably could have been entered for the challenge, but I wanted to make something especially with autumn in mind, and I’m glad I did as this was delicious!

I adapted a recipe from Delicious magazine for an apple frangipane tart, used Mary Berry’s sweet pastry recipe, and added in blackberries for extra autumnalness (yes, that is a word).

The blackberries were all picked within 3 minutes of my house and the apples came from my bosses tree, which in my mind makes this extra tasty!

Can’t wait to see the round up of everyone else’s Autumnal Baking!

Apple and blackberry frangipane tart:

For the pastry:

  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1tbsp water

Chop the butter into small chunks and blend in a food processor with the flour and sugar until it has a breadcrumb texture. Add in the egg yolk and water and blend again, until it just comes together as a ball. Chill for about half an hour, then roll out to line a 10″ flan tin, and chill again for 10 minutes. Blind bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then return to the oven for a couple more minutes until golden.

For the filling:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 3-4 small apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 100g(ish) blackberries

While the pastry is baking, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the ground almonds and flour. Once the pastry case is done, pour the almond mixture in and spread level. Arrange the fruit in a pretty pattern (you probably don’t need to spend quite as long doing this as I did), then return to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Heat 2tbsp apricot jam, then brush this over the tart and return to the oven for a final 10 minutes of baking. This amount of baking will make the top of the crust go quite brown, but the filling should be golden and shiny. Serve warm or cold.