Lime drizzle cake

This is my final cake from last month’s barbecue, and by far the most simple!

If you like lemon drizzle, you’ll love lime drizzle, and even if the weather is typically miserable and British this cake will be like a little ray of sunshine in your day!

The recipe is from Levi Roots’ Food for Friends cookbook, and uses the slightly unusual (to me at least) method of rubbing in the flour and butter as you would for pastry rather than creaming butter and sugar. I was a little concerned it would end up lumpy, but it actually turned out as a very nicely textured, light sponge.

The only thing I’d change if I made this again is adding even more lime to the cake mix for a little extra zing!

Lime drizzle cake (from Levi Roots’ Food for Friends)

  • 125g butter
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • zest and juice of 3 limes
  • juice of another 2 limes
  • 100g caster sugar

Rub the butter into the flour until it forms a breadcrumb like mixture, then stir in the 125g sugar, followed by the zest and juice of the first three limes. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin and bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until risen, golden, and springy to the touch.

While the cake is baking, make the icing by stirring the remaining 100g sugar into the juice of the two limes. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke it all over with a skewer and then pour the lime sugar mix evenly over the top. Leave to cool then cut into squares.


Chocolate orange fudge cake

When I was shortlisting cakes to make for our barbecue (which feels like forever ago now but was actually only a fortnight) I wanted to use recipes I was fairly sure would work – catering for a large group of people is not the time to experiment!

I’ve become a bit of a fan of the chocolate orange combination recently, so I decided I would turn my go-to chocolate fudge cake, which normally makes a 3-layer cake, into a chocolate orange tray bake.

It worked really well, I halved the quantities of both cake and icing and added the zest and juice of an orange to both, which was enough for the orange flavour to come through quite noticeably.

Doing it as a tray bake was perfect for cutting it into easy to eat small portions, and I think would be good for any type of occasion where you have a dessert buffet. In case you can’t tell, I was quite a fan, and it’s dead easy too!

Chocolate orange fudge cake

  • 60g dark chocolate
  • 60g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of an orange
  • 1 egg
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 125ml buttermilk

For the icing

  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 60g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • zest and juice of an orange
  • 2-3tbsp milk

For the cake, grease and line an 8″ square cake tin, and melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Stir the orange zest into the sugar, then beat with the butter until light and fluffy, then add the egg and beat again. Sieve together the flour, bicarb and cocoa and fold into the cake batter. Beat in half of the buttermilk, the melted chocolate and then the remaining buttermilk, pour into the tin and bake at 160 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

For the icing, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water, without stirring, then quickly beat in the orange zest and juice, icing sugar and 2-3tbsp milk, depending on how thick it looks. Leave to cool, then spread over the cake and cut into squares.


Strawberries and cream bars

These are another of the bakes I made for our bank holiday barbecue (still 2 more to go!) and were chosen because no British summer event is really complete without strawberries cream in one form or another.

I had the original recipe for these from Cookies and Cups bookmarked on Pinterest for ages, so this seemed like the perfect occasion to give them a go before the strawberry season sadly comes to an end.

I changed the recipe up a bit because I didn’t want to use a boxed cake mix, and ended up using the same recipe for the base and crumb that I used as the base for my Millionaire’s Shortbread so I could make both at once.

It worked pretty well and the bars turned out great – they tasted just like strawberry cheesecake, looked really pretty, and were even relatively low calorie – 160 if you cut them into 12 pieces.

They would also work well with other fruits – I’m particularly thinking blueberry – so may have to try a few more versions…

Strawberries and cream bars (adapted from Cookies and Cups)

  • 165g flour
  • 130g butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 200g strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

For the base/crumb, rub the butter into the flour to create a breadcrumb-like mix, then stir in the sugar. Press about 2/3 of this into the base of an 8×8″ square tin, lined with baking paper, and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until starting to turn golden.

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. When the base is done, pour the cream cheese mixture on top, scatter the chopped strawberries all over, and finish by sprinkling clumps of the rest of the crumb mixture on top.

Return to the oven for another 30-40 minutes, until the cream cheese mixture is set and the crumb is golden. Leave to cool before slicing into bars, and serve chilled.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

This is the second of the bakes I made for our bank holiday barbecue, at the Pony’s very firm insistence.

I’ve made a chocolate caramel shortbread before, but it wasn’t perfect – the caramel kept burning and the chocolate was too hard to cut neatly – so I decided to try again with a slightly different recipe to iron out the faults.

Instead of cooking the caramel at a boil for 5 minutes, I cooked it on a lower heat for a much longer time, which did stop it burning although it was maybe just a tad on the soft side. I added a spoonful of sunflower oil to the chocolate to go on top so it wouldn’t set quite so hard, and that definitely seemed to work.

I think these were probably the most popular of the things I made for the barbecue, and they’re definitely one of the pony’s favourites (he’s already asking when I’ll make them again!) so if you need a crowd-pleasing dessert, give this a try!

Millionaire’s shortbread (adapted from here and here)

  • 165g flour
  • 130g butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 400g tin condensed milk
  • 115g butter
  • 40g dark brown sugar
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar and press the mixture down into the base of an 8×8″ square tin, lined with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until just turning golden.

To make the caramel, heat the condensed milk, butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and turns a rich, golden, caramel colour. Pour over the cooled biscuit base, and leave in the fridge to firm up.

For the chocolate layer, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, and then once melted stir in the spoonful of oil. Spread on top of the set caramel and leave to harden. Once the chocolate it set, lift out of the tin and cut into squares or bars. Keep refrigerated.

Mini blackberry cheesecakes

This weekend was we had a neighbourhood barbecue, where my main responsibility was to lay on a good spread of cake.

Last year I made five different cakes, all of which went down well, so expectations were high. As we were away on a camping trip last week I didn’t have much time to prepare, so I had to make a fairly speedy shortlist of cakes, to try and cover off enough different tastes that there would be something for everyone.

Annoyingly I didn’t get any photos of the whole spread, so I’ll just have to blog them one by one, starting with these – mini blackberry cheesecakes.

The blackberry season isn’t really in full swing here yet, but there were enough on the bushes within a 5 minute walk of my house to whip up these dead simple individual cheesecakes.

There’s something about the deep purple of cooked blackberries that I just can’t resist, and I can’t think of a better base for them than a baked cheesecake. These mini cheesecakes are brilliant because they’re so much quicker to make than a normal cheesecake and it makes the recipe easier to scale up or down depending on how many you need.

This is definitely not going to be the last time you see mini cheesecakes here – I’m already thinking about making another batch with the last of the summer peaches, and then move on to apples, pears and other autumn flavours…

Mini blackberry cheesecakes (recipe adapted from All Recipes)

Makes 8

  • 65g hobnobs
  • 15g butter, melted
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 150g blackberries
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour

Blitz the hobnobs in a food processor until they form fine crumbs, then pour in the melted butter while the mixer is running. Spoon the crumbs into 8 cupcake cases and press down with the back of a spoon, then bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes.

While the bases are baking, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla and lemon zest and juice together until smooth and creamy. Once the based are done, pour the cheesecake mixture on top and bake for another 30-40 minutes, until firm and turning golden around the edges. Leave to cool.

For the topping, heat 100g of the blackberries with 1 tbsp sugar, 1tbsp water and 1 tbsp flour, stirring until the berries break down and the liquid thickens. Spread on top of the cheesecakes. Heat the remaining 50g of blackberries with the second tbsp of sugar, but stop before the berries turn into mush, and spoon the still whole berries on top of the jammy layer. Leave in the fridge to set, then remove from the cupcake cases and serve.

Still to come from my barbecue cake spread are chocolate orange fudge cake, lime drizzle cake, millionaire’s shortbread and strawberries and cream bars – pictured above with the blackberry cheesecakes. Keep an eye out for them appearing here soon!

Cappuccino squares

The final instalment of barbecue cakes, at last!

These cappuccino squares are one of the friendly pony’s favourites, largely down to the super-sweet white chocolate icing.

The coffee cake is just strong enough to balance out the sweetness, and with the dusting of cocoa on top I think these look really pretty.

Cappuccino squares:

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1-2 tsp cold water
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then gradually add the dissolved coffee until the mix is a nice coffee-brown colour (tasting at this point is optional if you’re funny about the raw eggs, but I like to check to make sure I’ve got it coffee-y enough). Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold until just combined. Spread the mix into a 8×8″ square tin, lined with greaseproof paper. Bake at 180 for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
For the icing:
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 175g icing sugar
  • Cocoa powder to dust
Melt the white chocolate and butter together over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat when melted, and beat in the icing sugar until it all comes together and there are no lumps. Remove the cake from the tin and peel off the greaseproof paper. Line the tin with paper again, making sure it hangs over the edge, then put the cake back in. This will make it a million times easier to get the cake back out! Spread the icing over the top of the cake, then dust the cocoa powder lightly over the top. Leave until ready to serve, then cut into 16 squares.

Chocolate cherry brownies

Barbecue cakes part 3!

These brownies are basically the same as these amazing ones I posted last month, but with the milk chocolate chunks swapped for Green & Blacks dark chocolate and cherry.

Despite being the same recipe, the friendly pony was convinced these ones were even better. He thought they were more fudgy, which is a bit odd as I actually cooked them for longer, but I think that could just be down to my temperamental oven.

I prefered these ones too, but because brownies are so rich anyway they don’t really need the sweetness of milk chocolate, and the dark chocolate and cherries give them a bit more of an edge.

Anyway, I won’t re-post the recipe but these are definitely worth a try!

Mini white chocolate and strawberry tarts

This is part 1 of my round up of cakes I made for our neighbourhood barbecue.

These little tarts are inspired by a Waitrose recipe for a large white chocolate and strawberry tart, which I’ve been making for years and has never let me down.

I decided to use a different pastry recipe, just to try something different, so I went with one that BBC Good Food also paired with white chocolate and strawberries (although I switched the hazelnuts for pecans as I had some spare pecans in the cupboard).

The end result was great, a really thin, crisp pastry, with a soft creamy white chocolate filling and delicious strawberries on top. I think they looked really pretty, and everyone seemed to like them, although the pony said they weren’t quite sweet enough for his tastes.

The quantities for the pastry below are actually double what you need, but I used half to make the banoffee pie tarts which I will post about soon. You could either double the filling or freeze half the pastry to make it the right amount!

Mini white chocolate and strawberry tarts:

For the pastry:

  • 180g plain flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1tbsp chopped pecans
  • 90g butter
  • 1 egg
Blend together the flour, sugar, pecans and butter in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add in the egg and keep mixing until it comes together in a ball. The recipe says you can roll it out straight away, but I refrigerated it for an hour and still had to use quite a bit of extra flour to roll it out. Roll it fairly thinly, then cut out rounds large enough to fill cupcake tin holes (I don’t actually own any cutters so I used the lid of a Nutella jar, which did the trick!) Freeze for 20 minutes to stop the pastry shrinking, then blind bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then for a further 3-5 minutes uncovered, until golden brown.
For the filling:
  • 250g marscapone
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 75ml double cream
  • 250g chopped strawberries
Heat the white chocolate with a quarter of the marscapone of a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat then beat in the remaining marscapone, then stir in the cream. Decant into a jug, then pour into the pastry cases. I found this to be enough mix to fill 15 cases. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve, then top with the chopped strawberries. Delicious summery goodness!

Bank holiday barbecue cakes

Yesterday was the first of what will hopefully be many Fernleigh Gardens barbecues. Along with our next door neighbour, Jo, the friendly pony and I decided what our neighbourhood needed was a big barbecue, where everyone could get to know each other and eat lots of food.

Obviously, as soon as this was decided, I started thinking about what cakes to make. I wanted things that were bite-sized and easy to eat, and in the end these are the five that I settled on.

Chocolate cherry brownies:

Lemon bars:

White chocolate and strawberry tarts:

Cappuccino squares:

Banoffee pie tarts:

In total I think there were about 75 pieces of cake, and there are only 4 left in my fridge now, so I think they went down pretty well! Someone even assumed that making cakes was my job, which I think is a very nice compliment!

I’ll post recipes for each of these over the next week or so, they’re all quick and easy and perfect for a sunny barbecue!