Mocha ombre cake

20161022_210631

Every year in October I face the same challenge – coming up with a new idea for a birthday cake for my dad.

He’s very certain in what he likes, which is coffee cake and fruit cake, which makes trying to get creative with different flavours and styles slightly pointless.

I don’t like fruitcake, which means that every year it comes down to how I can make a coffee cake in a different way.

20161022_175820

In the past I’ve done straight up coffee cake, coffee roulade, individual coffee cakes and a coffee cake with mocha filling.

This year I thought I’d try something that (I hoped) would be visually impressive and decided on a mocha ombre cake.

The cake features three layers of sponge – vanilla, coffee and coffee-chocolate – with icing that also graduates in colour with an ombre finish.

20161022_210544

Most importantly it tasted good, but it did also look pretty good if I may say so myself, especially given that the icing was done in a five-minute rush before heading out for dinner.

All the elements of this cake are pretty basic, but they come together for an impressive finish and a cake that’s perfect for the coffee-lover in your life.

20161022_210435_001

Mocha ombre cake

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1-3 tbsp milk

For the icing:

  • 250g butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 2-4 tbsp cocoa powder

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sieve and fold in the self raising flour, then add a tablespoon or two of milk if needed to make the mixture a thick consistency that will drop off a spoon.

Pour a third of the mixture into a greased and lined 6″ round tin. My top tip is to weigh your mixing bowl before starting, then you can figure out exactly how much cake batter you have and how much needs to go into each pan.

Mix the instant coffee with a tablespoon of hot water, then add this to the cake mixture and stir in well. Divide the remaining mixture in half and fill a second 6″ cake pan with the coffee cake mix.

Finally, sieve the cocoa powder into the final third of the mixture with a tablespoon of milk and pour this into a third 6″ tin. Bake all of the cakes at 180 degrees or 160 fan for approximately 20-25 minutes, until risen and springy to the touch.

Set the cakes aside to cool while you make the icing. Beat the butter to soften then add the icing sugar, half at a time, and beat until really well combined. Mix the instant coffee with a two tablespoons of water and add about half of this to the buttercream. Beat well and test to see if it has enough coffee flavour. Add more if you want it stronger, then add just enough milk to make the buttercream a light, spreadable consistency.

Split the buttercream in half, and set half aside. Add the cocoa powder a tablespoon at a time, until the colour is a few shades darker than your coffee butter cream. Split the chocolate mixture in half, and then add more cocoa powder to half of it again, to be an even darker shade of brown. You should end up with half plain coffee buttercream, a quarter light coffee chocolate buttercream and a quarter dark chocolate buttercream.

To assemble the cake, level off the tops of each sponge with a sharp knife, then place the chocolate layer on a plate. Spread a small amount of the coffee buttercream over the top, then add the coffee sponge on top. Spread with another layer of coffee buttercream, then place the final vanilla sponge on top.

Use the coffee buttercream to add a thin layer of crumb coat all over the cake and chill for 10 minutes. To complete the icing, either use piping bags or apply carefully with a palette knife so the dark chocolate buttercream goes around the bottom third of the sides of the cake, the light chocolate goes around the middle and the coffee buttercream goes around the top and on top. Use a palette knife to smooth the sides of the cake and subtly blend the three buttercreams together, then cut into slices and serve.

Advertisements

Blueberry Mousse Cheesecake

Since returning from my travels, I’ve been getting back into the swing of baking slowly – a few cookies to take into the office here, using up an old box of cake mix there – but nothing too extravagant or challenging.

I decided it was time to step it up a notch for my mum’s birthday, with this blueberry mousse cheesecake.

She’s not a cakey-cake sort of person, and definitely prefers fruit desserts to chocolate, so a fruity cheesecake seemed ideal (not to mention that it’s my favourite thing to bake).

I made a sponge base, because I think it’s a nice change to biscuit sometimes, a fairly standard fail-safe new york cheesecake recipe, and then a slightly more troublesome blueberry mousse on top.

I wanted to make the mousse without gelatine because it scares me a little, so decide to try a sort of fake mousse with melted white chocolate and whipped cream, which I’ve used to fill cakes before.

To give it the blueberry flavour and colour, I boiled down a pack of frozen blueberries and strained to make a coulis, then added this in – half into the melted white chocolate and half into the cream, for no reason other than I didn’t know which way would work best.

After pouring the mousse on top of the cheesecake I started to have doubts about whether it would set, so scraped it off, added more melted white chocolate, whipped it up some more and put it back. I really needn’t have done that, as left overnight it would have set up just fine, but lesson learnt I suppose.

I decorated the cake with the leftover blueberry coulis, and it looked rather nice I think.

My mum liked it, and even had a second slice for breakfast, and my dad and step dad seemed to like it too. I’d like to have another go and make a raspberry one to perfect the mousse, and I think you could come up with some great combinations if you changed up the flavour of the cheesecake as well.

Note – I made a 6″ cake because there were only going to be four of us eating it, but you could totally double up to make a 9″ one and the method would be exactly the same.

Blueberry Mousse Cheesecake

For the base:

  • 50g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 40g self raising flour
  • 10g desiccated coconut

For the cheesecake:

  • 300g cream cheese
  • 100g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 75ml creme fraiche

For the mousse:

  • 300g frozen blueberries
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 150ml whipping cream

To make the base, beat all the ingredients together until smooth then pour into a greased and lined 6″ round tin. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and level the top – you only want the sponge to be about 1cm thick.

For the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese to soften then add the sugar and lemon zest and beat to combine. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and beat; then the eggs and beat; then finally the creme fraiche. And beat.

Put the sponge back in the bottom of the tin and pour the cheesecake mixture on top. Bake at 170 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 120 and bake for another hour. I always have a tray on the shelf underneath with about an inch of water in, this creates steam and helps to stop the cheesecake cracking. After baking, leave in the oven to cool, then transfer to the fridge.

To make the mouse, start by heating the blueberries in a saucepan until all the juices have been released and it’s starting to thicken. Blend either in a food processor or with a stick blender, then pass through a sieve to get rid of any lumps.

Melt the white chocolate and leave to come to room temperature. Whisk the cream until it’s lightly whipped. Add a couple of spoonfuls of cream into the chocolate to loosen it, then add the chocolate back into the cream and fold in gently. Add the blueberry coulis a few spoonfuls at a time until you get a good flavour and colour, taking care not to add too much in case the mousse becomes too runny, and remember to keep some back for decoration.

Remove the cooled cheesecake from the tin, then line the tin with cling film and put it back in. This is a thousand times easier to do with a loose bottomed tin so you can keep the cake on that. Pour the mousse on top of the cheesecake and spread level, then leave in the fridge overnight to set.

When you’re ready to serve, gently lift the cake out of the tin, remove the cling film and transfer to a serving plate. Drizzle the remaining coulis on top and make it look all pretty, then you’re done!

 

Strawberry Fudge Cake

So, things have been pretty quiet around here lately – I’m sorry!

There are two main reasons – firstly  life has just been crazy and I’ve barely had time to read any blogs, let alone write them; but I’ve also put a temporary stop to baking for the good of my health…

To summarise the situation, at the start of the year I moved into a new house, with new friends, in a new town. I’ve gone from living in the middle of nowhere and rarely going out, to having easy access to all manor of restaurants, bars and fabulous social occasions.

The upshot of this is that even though I’ve been exercising more, the weight has been creeping on – I’m now a stone heavier than I was in December, and although people are very kind to me and say it doesn’t show, I can see it and feel it, and I don’t like it.

Now I’m not going to pretend that this is all down to cake – copious amounts of rum and coke are definitely to blame too – but I’ve decided that having cakes sat around in the kitchen is one temptation I can do without.

My current health kick definitely isn’t forever, just until I get back down to a size I’m more happy with (and I am going to cut back on the alcohol to help this too… a bit…)

I’ll still be baking for special occasions because as far as I’m concerned nothing says love like baked goods, and I will continue to blog as often as I can. I also have a bit of a blog revamp in the pipeline, and I’m sure that will motivate me to get baking and writing more again!

This strawberry fudge cake was a cake of love, for my dear friend Charlotte’s birthday.

I was inspired by a box of strawberries and cream fudge, and came up with a vanilla sponge studded with fresh strawberries, filled and iced with a strawberry cream cheese frosting, with chinks of fudge between the layers and on top, finished with a few more fresh strawberries and pink sugar sprinkles.

It was everything I wanted it to be – pretty, summery, light and tasty. The birthday girl liked it and I think it was 100% worth the calories consumed taste testing the icing and eating leftover fudge…

Strawberry fudge cake

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 150g strawberry, chopped

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50g cream cheese
  • 200g strawberries, chopped, plus extra to decorate
  • 100g strawberry (or plain) fudge, finely chopped
  • pink sugar sprinkles

For the sponge, follow the usual Victoria sponge method – beat together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla, then sift in the flour and fold in until just combined. Stir in the strawberries, then divide between three 6″ round cake tins and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for about 25 minutes, or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, start by heating the strawberries in a small saucepan, and cook them until they have completely broken down and turn into a thick puree. Beat the butter and gradually add the icing sugar, adding a little of the cream cheese if it’s not coming together. Finally, add the cream cheese and cooled strawberries and beat until light and fluffy.

Chill the icing in the fridge for an hour before assembling the cake. Spread a layer of icing on the bottom layer of cake, then sprinkle a third of the fudge pieces on top. Add the second layer of sponge, more icing and more fudge, then the final layer of sponge. Cover in a thin coat of icing and refrigerate for half an hour.

Spread the remaining icing all over the cake. Finish by adding a few more strawberries and the remaining chopped fudge to decorate, and scatter some sugar sprinkles on top as well if you like. Store in the fridge until an hour before you’re ready to serve.

Lemon poppyseed meringue cupcakes

I love lemon curd. Nothing is better than biting into a cake, tart or pie and getting smacked around the face by a big zing of lemon – right?!

Part of the reason I was so disappointed with the lemon meringue torta I had at Pizza Express recently was that earlier in the week I’d been making my own lemon curd for these cupcakes, and, without wanting to sound too arrogant, the bland version they used jut couldn’t come close to it.

These cupcakes were for a friend’s birthday, and combine the best of both (lemon) worlds; lemon poppyseed cake and lemon meringue pie.

I wanted to bake something that was relatively light, as somewhat of an antidote to all the heavy Christmas food and stodgy winter puddings that having been wreaking havoc with my waistline over the past few months.

Not that I can exactly claim these are healthy, but they are light in flavour and texture, and the meringue frosting is certainly a little less bad for you than a buttercream or cream cheese icing would be.

They went down well with everyone who sampled them, and although the meringue would have looked better if I’d had a blowtorch to finish it overall I was still very happy with how these turned out.

Lemon poppyseed meringue cupcakes (adapted from BBC Good Food and Baking Mad)

  • 150g self raising flour
  • 120g caster sugar
  • zest of a large lemon
  • 1tbsp poppy seeds, toasted
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 65g natural yoghurt
  • 120g butter, melted

Sift together the flour and sugar and stir in the lemon zest and poppyseeds. Beat the eggs and whisk in the natural yoghurt and melted butter, then add this to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Divide between 9 large cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and springy (but still quite light in colour).

For the filling and icing:

Once the cupcakes are cool, cut a hole in the centre of each and fill with 1 tsp of lemon curd, then replace the bits you’ve cut out so the top is level again. Heat the caster sugar in a saucepan with 25ml water. For the best results, use a sugar thermometer and take it off the heat when it reaches 230 degrees fahrenheit.

While the syrup is heating, whisk the egg white until stiff peaks start to form, then once the syrup reaches the right heat slowly pour it in down the side of the bowl, while you have the mixer running. Keep whisking until the bowl, and the meringue, completely cools. Then you can spoon the meringue into a piping bag to frost the cupcakes. At this point, if you have a blow torch you should absolutely use it, but if you don’t you can do what I did and either put them back in the oven on a low heat for a more cooked meringue, or blast them under the grill for brown tops and a marshmallowy inside. Both ways are good!

tea time treats

As these cupcakes star egg yolks in the curd and egg whites in the meringue, I think they’re perfect for this month’s Tea Time Treats, hosted for the first time by Jane at the Hedge Combers. Eggs is the theme, and as much as I love them scrambled, poached or in an omelette, in cakes they’re even better…

Peanut butter m&m blondies

Peanut butter m&m blondies

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends from uni celebrated her birthday with a night out in her home town.

Obviously this is a fairly normal thing to do, but for me it was a pretty special occasion, as despite having been friends for 7 years I have never managed to visit her for her birthday.

I know that makes me sound like a bit of a bad friend, but every year something has come up that’s stopped me being able to go – for example, last year I was all set and looking forward to it, until my car decided to die on me a few days before. Perfect timing!

Anyway, this year I was determined that nothing would stand in my way, and although horrific traffic did it’s best and made me several hours late, I was there, and all was good.

Considering I effectively had 6 missed years of birthdays to make up for, I needed to make sure I had a good birthday present to give, and in my mind there’s no better gift to give than something baked with love.

I was a bit restricted by knowing that whatever I baked would have to survive a 5-hour car journey – so no towering layer cakes that could fall over, delicate cupcakes that could get squashed, or icings that could melt.

Based on a vague inkling that my friend liked peanut butter, I decided that either peanut butter cookies or peanut butter brownies were the way forward. I then spotted these incredible looking bars on Averie Cooks, and knew I was on to a winner.

The peanut butter blondie base of these bars is great on its own, and you could pretty much add whatever you like into the mix – as Averie suggests, it’s a great way of using up whatever half bags of add-ins you have lying around in the cupboard.

I wanted extra peanuttyness (I know that isn’t a word, but it should be) so I bought some mini peanut butter cups to go with the dark chocolate and m&ms I already had. I used plain chocolate m&ms, but if you’re a real nut lover I would definitely throw in some of the peanut ones as well, or even the peanut butter ones if you can get your hands on them.

I kind of intentionally bought a gift box that was too small to fit the whole batch of blondies in, meaning a few were left over for sampling – what a tragedy!

My new chief taster (my dad) was a big fan, despite regularly telling me how much he doesn’t like peanut butter, and I really liked them too – the base is chewy, sweet and nutty, the m&ms bring texture contrast with their crunchiness, the peanut butter cups and dark chocolate add nice bursts of slight saltiness and bitterness to counter all the sugar, and I think the brightly coloured m&ms also make them look a bit more ‘birthday’.

Another plus is that they kept really well for about 5 days, not drying out at all, so they’d be great if you need to make something a few days in advance of being eaten.

Whether you have 6 years of missed birthdays to make up for, or just want to treat yourself, I would highly recommend you give these a try!

Peanut butter m&m blondies (recipe adapted from Averie Cooks)

  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 135g smooth peanut butter
  • 120g plain flour
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g m&ms
  • 100g Reeses miniature peanut butter cups

Beat together the melted butter, egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat again, then sift and fold in the flour. Finally, fold in 2/3 of whatever chocolate bits and add-ins you’re using and spread the mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin, then sprinkle the rest on top (this will make the bars look prettier!)

Bake at 170 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until golden and just set. Leave to cool in the tin for an hour or so, then remove and leave to cool completely before slicing into squares.

How to make a bunny rabbit birthday cake

On the Friday before the Jubilee bank holiday weekend, my boss asked me where he could get a custom made cake for his wife’s birthday – the following Monday.

Unsurprisingly, the local bakery said it was too short notice, so I offered to make one, even though it was the same weekend I had to make my competition cakes AND a secret birthday cake for the pony – I do like a challenge!

He said he wanted a rabbit cake as his wife, Debs, loves bunnies. When I searched on Google I couldn’t find anything that looked like what I wanted so I kind of just made it up, but I think it turned out well so in case anyone else should ever need to make one, here’s how I did it!

You will need:

  • 1 x 9″ round chocolate cake
  • 1 x 7″ round chocolate cake
  • chocolate fudge icing
  • white chocolate buttercream
  • 25g white chocolate for decoration
  • 14″ cake board
  • baking paper, a pen/pencil, a knife and spatula
(recipes for cakes and icing follow the tutorial)

Start by making sure both cakes are level and roughly the same height as each other. Turn them over, so the already flat and even bottom is on top.

I found it helped me to make templates of the shapes I was going to cut out so I made a 9″ round out of baking paper, then cut it straight across the bottom, about an inch and a half from the edge of the circle. Lay it on top of the 9″ cake, then cut along the line. Don’t throw away the bit you’ve cut off, you’ll need it later!

Place the 9″ cake on the cake board with the flat side near the bottom of the board – this will be the body of the rabbit. Lay strips of baking paper along all sides to make it neater when it comes to icing.

Take the piece of cake you cut from the body, then cut it an an angle as in the picture below – the smaller bit will make the rabbit’s from feet.

Place the feet on the board by the body.

Take the 7″ cake and trim it to about 5.5″ diameter – I drew around a cereal bowl for the template.

Once you’ve got a smaller circle of cake, it’s going to be cut into three pieces, as shown on the template below.

Use the 9″ cake tin to draw around to create the oval on the right, then just draw the line on the right freehand. Cut the cake according to the template.

Take the middle of the cake and place it next to the body of the rabbit to make the head.

Then take the oval you cut off and lie it above the head, pointing backwards to make the ears.

Take your leftover scraps of cake and crumble them up in a bowl. Add in a tablespoon of the chocolate icing, and squeeze it into a ball – this can be used as the rabbit’s tail.

Apply a thin layer of chocolate icing all over the rabbit, and a thin layer or white buttercream on the tail. Transfer the cake to the fridge for 10 minutes for it to firm up.

Spread the rest of the icing all over the cake using a spatula, getting it as smooth as you can, then add an oval shaped eye with the white icing and pupil with a little dot of the chocolate icing. Remove the paper from underneath.

To finish the cake, melt the white chocolate and pipe on a nose, whiskers, and any birthday message. Rabbit cake done!

The sponge cake and chocolate icing recipe I used for this is my go-to chocolate fudge cake recipe from Joanna Farrow’s ‘Chocolate’. The white chocolate buttercream I made up with what I had on hand!.

For the cake:

  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 125g plain chocolate
  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sieve the dry ingredients into the cake and fold until well combined. Beat in half of the buttermilk, then the melted chocolate and remaining buttermilk.

Divide between a greased and lined 9″ tin and 7″ tin. Bake at 160 degrees for 25-30 minutes – the smaller cake will cook a bit quicker than the large one, but they should be risen, springy to the touch and a skewer should come out with just a few fudgy crumbs.

Chocolate fudge icing:

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 125g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp milk

Heat the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave until completely melted, then remove from the heat, stir once and beat in the sugar and milk until well mixed. Leave to cool until a spreadable consistency.

White chocolate buttercream

  • 50g butter
  • 25g white chocolate
  • 100g icing sugar

Beat the butter to soften, then add the melted chocolate and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add a little more sugar or milk if you want it thicker/thinner in consistency.

 

Strawberries and cream chocolate Ivy cake

Last weekend, our neighbour Ivy celebrated her 91st birthday. NINETY-ONE!

This was definitely cause for a celebration cake. A bit of sneaky research revealed that creamy cakes are her favourite, so I set about making this strawberries and cream chocolate layer cake.

I used the same sponge recipe that I used for the chocolate gateau a while ago, but baked it in three layers as it rose out of the tin last time. I think this is definitely going to be my go-to recipe for chocolate layer cakes, it’s fudgey, chocolatey, and can hold the weight of several layers on top.

I spread each of the bottom two layers with melted strawberry jam, then piled on whipped cream with chopped strawberries mixed in. The top layer of the cake was decorated with a layer of chocolate ganache, halved strawberries arranged around the edge, and white chocolate writing.

We finished the cake with a few candles and took the it round to surprise Ivy. She loved it!

Strawberries and cream chocolate Ivy cake:

For the sponge

  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 125g plain chocolate
  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sieve the dry ingredients into the cake and fold until well combined. Beat in half of the buttermilk, then the melted chocolate and remaining buttermilk.

Divide the mixture between three 7″ tins (I only have two so I baked then in two goes, and weighed the mixture to make sure each tin had the same amount). Bake at 180 degrees on the middle shelf of the oven, for approximately 2 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling and decoration

  • 300g strawberries
  • 275ml double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 25g white chocolate

Halve 8 of the strawberries for the decoration and set aside. Finely chop the rest. Whip the cream until soft peaks are starting to form, then stir in the icing sugar and chopped strawberries.

Melt the jam, then brush onto two of the sponge layers. Divide the cream mix between the two sponges, and sandwich together.

Place the dark chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and stir until well mixed. Refrigerate until thick enough to spread, then spread onto the third cake layer to within 1cm of the edge. Arrange the halved strawberries around the edge of the cake, then leave in the fridge until the ganache is set.

Melt the white chocolate and transfer to a piping back for the writing. It’s easier to decorate the top before it goes on the cake, so once the writing is done add the third layer. Add candles and celebrations and enjoy!

Malteser birthday cake

Last weekend was my lovely friend John’s birthday. He has been kind enough to say some very nice things about my cakes in the past, so I couldn’t let the occasion pass without baking something special.

When asked what type of cakes were his favourite, he said ‘sweet, not fruity’ so naturally I took that to mean chocolate.

I looked around a bit before settling on this chocolate malteser cake.

I decided to make it more birthday-ish I would double the icing so I could cover the whole thing as well as the inside and top, and arrange the maltesers in a more decorative pattern.

The sponge didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped, it wasn’t exactly dry but it wasn’t as moist or light as I would have liked either.

I don’t know if this is because I substituted the 3 medium eggs the recipe required for 2 duck eggs, but they had been given to me by one of the friendly pony’s colleagues and were too fresh and delicious not to use.

I also used less almonds and buttermilk than the recipe called for, purely because of the size packs they come so I wouldn’t have to waste any.

If I made it again I’d use a different sponge recipe, but the icing worked well and the birthday boy was happy, so overall it was a success.

Chocolate Malteser Birthday Cake

For the sponge:

  • 3 medium chicken eggs, or 2 duck eggs
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 50g melted butter
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Whisk the eggs and sugar for 4 minutes or until they have trebled in size. Add in all the other ingredients and mix to combine. Split the mixture between 2 greased and lined 7″ round cake tins, and bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees. Leave the cakes to cool while you make the icing.
For the icing (makes enough for the cake and 6 cupcakes):
  • 250g marscapone
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1 large sharing pack maltesers
Beat the marscapone until smooth then gradually sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add a little milk if the mixture it too thick to beat.
At this point I put the sponges, icing, maltesers and cake tools into a box (along with some cupcakes and ice packs), as the birthday celebrations were taking place 45 minutes away from my house and I wasn’t sure the cake would make the journey. Handily the pony’s parents live near by, so I borrowed their kitchen to assemble the cake.
To assemble, first chop the maltesers roughly in halves. I separated the neat looking ones to go on top and used the rest inside the cake and to decorate some cupcakes.
Spread a layer of icing on top of one of the sponges, then scatter chopped maltesers on top. Add the other sponge on top, then coat the top and sides with the rest of the icing. Leave in the fridge to cool for a while, then arrange the maltesers on top in a pretty pattern. Enjoy!

Baked raspberry cheesecake

I have been massively slack in updating this blog recently, and have a huge backlog of things I’ve baked but not posted about yet. This cheesecake I actually made for my mum’s birthday on June 15th, over 2 weeks ago!

But, it was an awesome cheesecake, so better late than never.

If I had to pick one thing as my baking ‘speciality’, it would probably be cheesecake. I’ve been adapting one recipe for a couple of years and now have it down to an art, with WAY over-complicated cooking methods – but it is delicious.

My mum doesn’t like spongey cakes, so I knew for certain I would make her a cheesecake for her birthday (the big five-oh!) but it took me a while to decide on the flavour.

I was toying with the idea of a Lorraine Pascal white chocolate amaretto cheesecake, but instead decided to go for baked raspberry. I’ve made plenty before with raspberries on top, but never actually in the cheesecake mix, so I was excited to try something new.

I adapted the recipe from the BBC Good Food version, which had received rave reviews so I thought it was worth a go. Me and my mum both prefer a sponge base to a biscuit base though, so I made that the night before – making the whole cheesecake a 3 day effort…

Day 1

  • 60g butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 40g self raising flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Beat all the ingredients together in one go (as it isn’t particularly important for the cake to rise). Spread the mix into a 9″ round springform cake tin, lined with greaseproof paper, an bake for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees. Leave to cool for an hour or so, or overnight as I did.
Day 2
  • 600g cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 142ml pot sour cream
  • 200g raspberries
Beat all the ingredients apart from the raspberries in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the raspberries then pour the mix on top of the cooled sponge base. Place on a high shelf in the oven, with a baking tray with 1cm boiling water on the shelf underneath. Bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 110 degrees and cook for a further hour and a half. After an hour and a half, turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake in to cool, preferably overnight (this prevents cracking on top).
Day 3
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g white chocolate
  • icing sugar to taste
  • 15 raspberries
Melt the white chocolate over a low heat, then beat into the cream cheese. Sift in the icing sugar little by little until it reaches the right level of sweetness, then spread over the top of the cheesecake. Place the raspberries on top to decorate, then remove the whole thing from the tin. Serve and enjoy!
(Apologies for the hideous lighting, but the photos were rushed as my family were keen to eat!)

1,000 calorie chocolate caramel lion birthday cake

This week was a special week.

It was the friendly pony’s birthday, and such a special day deserves a special cake.

Quite a while ago we saw a recipe on the BBC good food website for a chocolate caramel layer cake that had an obscene 1,000 calories per slice.

There’s almost nothing the pony likes more than big calories, but I insisted that I would only make such a big calorie cake for a special occasion…

The cake itself was actually quite easy to make and wouldn’t have taken too long – had I not decided that what would make it complete was a marzipan lion.

Having never made marzipan animals before I didn’t really know what to expect, but colouring it and moulding it was easy enough. The part that took me a good hour or more was making his mane, from individual thinly rolled pieces of marzipan…

I was happy with the finished lion though, even if he was a little on the chubby side.

I proudly placed him on top of 4 layers of vanilla, caramel, caramel-chocolate and chocolate sponge, sandwiched with caramel and coated in thick chocolate ganache (you can actually hear the calories if you read that sentence out loud).

The towering cake somehow managed to make a 25 minute car journey to the pony’s work, where everyone had a slice and seemed to enjoy it. One person actually asked if making cakes was my job, amazing!

The recipe I followed is here, and the only change I made was adding a little extra yoghurt to the chocolate layer as the mixture was a bit too thick after adding all the cocoa powder.

It really was an awesome cake, but unless you’re one of those hateful people who can eat and eat and never put on weight, I would definitely save it for a special occasion and only have a very small slice!