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…

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Cinnamon, milk and white chocolate cake

As I mentioned in my Happy New Year post last week, I made a cinnamon layer cake to take to my friends’ New Year’s Eve  party.

Although I took photos before being cut, I didn’t get any of the inside – normally this would mean that I just wouldn’t blog about it, but I liked the cake so much that I decided I would have to make it again so I could share it with you all.

The sponge recipe comes from The Novice Chef, via Beantown Baker, and is light, fluffy and richly scented with cinnamon and vanilla – everything you could want from a basic cinnamon cake.

For the icing, I was originally just going to do a white chocolate buttercream, but when I first made it I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to both sandwich the layers and cover the cake, so I also made a milk chocolate ganache which became the filling, leaving the buttercream to use as frosting.

The buttercream is sweet, for sure, but it works with the cinnamon, and the milk chocolate ganache is a little less sweet but not overpowering, as I think dark chocolate probably would have been.

I didn’t really need to decorate this cake as it was just for me, my housemates and colleagues, but an all-white cake doesn’t photograph brilliantly so I added some red sprinkles and gold dragees. I love the finish, but I can’t help but think it looks a little red velvet…

This cake is honestly one of my favourite bakes of recent months, and even if you’re not as much of a cinnamon fiend as me it’s still worth giving it a go – the fact I made it twice in a week is testament to how good it is!

Cinnamon, milk and white chocolate cake (adapted from The Novice Chef’s Churro Cake)

  • 115g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 60g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 125ml milk

For the filling and frosting:

  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 115g butter
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla, yoghurt and vegetable oil. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then fold a third of it into the cake batter. Add half the milk, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and finish by folding in the final third of the flour.

Divide the mixture between three greased and lined 6″ round cake tins, and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) until risen, golden and pulling away from the sides of the tins. Leave to cool while you make the fillings.

For the milk chocolate ganache, melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Add hot water a tablespoon at a time, whisking into the chocolate. t might not come together after the first spoonful, but even if it splits just keep whisking and it will be fine. Add about 3 tbsp, until it’s fairly liquid but still thick enough to cool to a spreadable consistency.

For the buttercream, melt the white chocolate, stir in the salt and set aside. Beat the butter and icing sugar until combined, then add in the white chocolate and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Spread the cooled milk chocolate ganache on top of the bottom and middle cake layers, stack all three layers, then spread a thin amount of the white buttercream all over to crumb coat. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, then spread the rest of the icing over the top and sides. Decorate with whatever you like – the more sprinkles the better!

Banana and cinnamon layer cake

Banana cinnamon layer cake

Right, I know I’ve been a bit rubbish at posting recently, but I have a huge backlog of things to write up so I am going to make a proper effort to make time and give you all some baking goodness!

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been house sitting for my wonderful friend Jenny, and her two GORGEOUS cats, Lizzie and Ted. Before she left, she mentioned that there were a few bananas in the fruit bowl that she’d intended to make a cake with but hadn’t had the time, so I decided to let them keep ripening and make her a welcome home cake to use them up.

I’ve made a fair few banana loaves, which I love, but I wanted this to be a layer cake, with a light and fluffy texture rather than the more moist denseness of what you’d possibly consider banana ‘bread’.

After much research, there didn’t seem to be any real secret to producing such a lighter banana sponge, so I adapted my favourite loaf recipe simply by adding a little more milk, some extra baking powder and beating the butter and sugar to death to try and achieve the texture I wanted.

Luckily, it worked – baked in three 6″ round tins the sponges were indeed light and fluffy. I kept things simple and layered them with a cinnamon cream cheese icing, going with the ‘naked cake’ look which is apparently all the rage at the minute and is a lot less faff than icing the sides!

I am a bit of a cinnamon fiend so for me the icing was the perfect partner to the banana sponge, but if you’re not keen you could either stick with a plain cream cheese icing, or go for something like a chocolate buttercream which I imagine would be equally delicious.

Banana and cinnamon layer cake (adapted from this recipe, originally found in Green & Blacks Ultimate Chocolate Recipes)

  • 200g bananas, mashed (2 medium-ish)
  • 100g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50ml milk

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g cream cheese

Start by mashing the bananas well – the blacker and riper they are the easier this will be to do, mine had been on the counter for over a fortnight before baking with them).

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for at least 2-3 minutes to get a really light and fluffy base. Add the eggs one at a time, beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl, then add the mashed bananas and beat again. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and fold half into the cake mixture. Stir in the milk, then fold in the remaining flour mixture.

Divide the cake batter between three 6″ round cake tins, then bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for abot 20 minutes, or until risen and golden. Leave to cool completely.

For the icing, beat the butter with the vanilla paste to soften, then sift together the icing sugar and cinnamon and add gradually to the butter. It probably will seem like it won’t come together, but add 25g of the cream cheese and keep beating and it should be fine. Add the rest of the cream cheese, then beat for a few minutes until thickened – don’t over mix. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

To assemble, trim the domes off the sponges to level, then spread a third of the icing on top of each sponge – you don’t need to be too neat, that’s the beauty of naked cakes! Slice and serve 🙂

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake

I’m into baking with vegetables in a big way at the minute, so when I was flicking through Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking the ‘scrumptious carrot cake’ immediately caught my eye.

It’s actually somewhere in between a traditional carrot cake and a hummingbird cake, as it has the addition of crushed pineapple in the sponge.

Given that I LOVED the hummingbird cake I made ages ago for a Clandestine Cake Club, I figured a hummingbird-carrot cake hybrid could only be a good thing, and switching the suggest buttercream and sugarpaste for an orange cream cheese frosting was quite literally the icing on the cake.

All the flavours work together perfectly, with nothing too overpowering. The deliciously sticky sponge is dense without being heavy, and the icing is just sweet enough sandwiched between the layers – I think if I’d covered the whole cake in icing it might have been too much, but I hear naked cakes are all the rage at the minute anyway…

If someone specifically wanted me to make them a carrot cake I think I’d still go with the traditional version, but this is a great way to change it up a bit and try something different so I would definitely recommend giving it a go!

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake (adapted from Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking)

  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 5 tbsp (75ml) vegetable oil
  • 75g natural yoghurt
  • 1.5 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 320g carrots, grated
  • 1 tin pineapple chunks, drained and crushed (220g)
  • 40g pecan nuts, chopped
  • 290g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 250g icing sugar

Beat together the sugar, vegetable oil and yoghurt until well combined, then add the eggs one a a time, followed by the vanilla. Fold in the grated carrots, crushed pineapple and chopped pecans, then finally sift together all of the remaining dry ingredients and fold these into the mix too. Divide the cake batter between three 6″ round cake tins and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 30-40 minutes, or until springy to the touch and starting to pull away from the sides of the tins.

While the cakes are cooking, make the icing. Beat the butter to soften, then add the orange zest and the icing sugar, a little at a time. If it won’t come together, add 25g of the cream cheese and beat again. Once the butter and sugar has been creamed, add he cream cheese and beat on a high speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Assemble the cake by levelling the tops of the cakes if they’ve domed, then by layering sponge and frosting. Slice and serve!

Black bottom cupcakes

Black bottom cupcakes

I first saw black bottom cupcakes somewhere in the blogosphere, or perhaps on Pinterest, I can’t quite remember – but I do remember thinking cheesecake baked into cupcakes had to be amazing, and they immediately earned a spot on my to-bake list.

Quite a while after first seeing them, I found out that the recipe came from the Hummingbird Bakery, and when I visited the Soho branch in the summer, black bottom was my friend’s cupcake of choice,  so I got to try my first bite.

The real thing…

It was every bit as good as it sounds, and the cream cheese icing makes it – over the top for sure, but absolutely delicious.

When my lovely colleague leant me Hummingbird’s first cookbook and I spotted the recipe for black bottom cupcakes, I knew the time had come to try making them for myself.

Unfortunately, although these look ok, I was actually quite disappointed with how they turned out. Everyone who tried them liked them, but having tried one from the bakery I could tell they weren’t up to scratch.

The chocolate cake batter was very thick, which I expected, but it baked up a little on the dry side. The cheesecake mix on the other hand was very thin, so rather than swirling into the cake it just sat in a layer on top, which I don’t think it how it’s supposed to work.

The icing I can’t fault, but Hummingbird’s cream cheese frosting is my all-time favourite, and has never let me down.

I am very willing to accept that the reason these didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped could be baker error rather than a fault with the recipe, so I may have to try it again – but in all likelihood, I’ll probably just wait until the next time I’m in London and buy one instead…

I won’t write up the recipe as I didn’t change a thing, and they obviously didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but if you want to have a go you can either buy the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook or check it out on the Delicious Magazine website.

Vintage Clandestine Cake Club

Vintage black forest cake

After several months of no Clandestine Cake Club action, as soon as Cornwall’s September event was announced I knew I wanted to go, but the fact it was to be held at a winery made it 100% essential that I did.

Knightor Winery is the only winery in Cornwall with it’s own restaurant, which was our venue for the morning. Sadly with work to go to I couldn’t sample the wines, but I’ve heard extremely good things, especially about their sparkling wines – a must-try for the future for sure.

The theme was vintage, either as in wine or as in retro, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to attempt to recreate the stunning cake demonstrated by Charlotte White at the Cake and Bake Show.

Burlesque Baking with Charlotte White

Compared with Charlotte’s it was far from perfect, but overall I was definitely pleases with the result, especially considering it’s only the second time I’ve properly attempted a full iced and decorated cake like this.

Inside were three layers of chocolate cake, sandwiched with a cream cheese icing and my special cherry jam, given to me by one of the host families I stayed with in Romania earlier in the year.

It seemed to go down pretty well with the other cake-clubbers and there wasn’t a lot left to take home at the end of the day which is always a good sign!

There were some super tasty cakes on offer, I think my favourite was the coconut and berry, or maybe one of the coffee and walnut… although the two red wine chocolate cakes were delicious too! Here are some of the treats I had to choose from:

DSCF4242

Thanks again to Ellie for organising, and to Knightor Winery for hosting – can’t wait for the next one!

Black and white chocolate showstopper

Black and white chocolate showstopper

It feels kind of arrogant to refer to something I’ve baked as a ‘showstopper’ – it definitely sets it up to be something spectacular so it’s a pretty bold statement to make.

But with showstoppers being the theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by the lovely Choclette, I’ve decided to embrace the word and be a little bold, and I am rather proud of this cake even if I do say so myself.

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Cake and Bake Show, I was totally inspired by the brilliant burlesque baking style demonstrated by Charlotte White, and so I decided to try my hand at a bit of a vintage design for my showstopper.

The stars all seemed to align for the making of this cake – I needed to make a showstopper, I was inspired by Charlotte, I had a friend with a birthday to bake for, and I was also having some professional photos taken on Saturday which was a great opportunity to get a half decent picture for a change (you may notice the drastic different in quality between the photos of the whole cake and the one of the inside, quickly snapped on my phone…)

The cake itself is my favourite dark chocolate cake, sandwiched with a white chocolate mousse and raspberry jam. I then coated it in a thin layer of buttercream before covering in white sugar paste, and decorating with royal icing, sort of piped in pearls but without flattening down the tips, and a flower paste flower of sorts on top.

For a first attempt at ‘fancy’ icing I was really happy with how it turned out, although I did have to do the sugar paste twice as I wasn’t happy with the first go as I rolled it too thinly and it cracked on the sides.

The birthday girl was happy too, and the taste lived up to the appearance – well, at 3 in the morning after one too many cocktails it seemed to anyway…

I really enjoyed making and decorating this cake, and I’m looking forward to my next attempt at something fancy – with a Clandestine Cake Club happening on Thursday I won’t have too long to wait, so I’ll update you on that soon!

Black and white chocolate showstopper

  • 90g dark chocolate
  • 90g butter
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 90ml milk
  • 90ml strongly brewed coffee, cooled

For filling and icing:

  • 150g white chocolate
  • 150ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 30g butter
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 750g sugar paste
  • 50g royal icing sugar mix
  • Black gel food colouring
  • 20g white flower paste

Start by melting the dark chocolate then set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat again. Sift together the flour, cocoa and bicarb, then fold into the cake mix. Add half the coffee and milk and beat slowly until just combined, then add the rest of the coffee and milk along with the melted chocolate, and mix again until the batter comes together and is smooth with no lumps.

Divide between three 6″ round tins, and bake at 170 degrees for around 25 minutes, until risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool while you make the filling and buttercream.

For the white chocolate mousse, melt the white chocolate and leave to cool. Whip the cream until almost stiff, then fold in the chocolate, working fairly swiftly so the chocolate doesn’t seize. To make the buttercream, beat the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder together until light and fluffy (I actually had some leftover from another cake, but this quantity should be plenty enough).

To assembly the cake, line a deep 6″ cake tin with cling film and level the tops of all the cakes. Place one sponge in the bottom of the tin, then spread half of the white chocolate mousse on top. Spread two tbsp of the raspberry jam on the next cake layer, then place jam side down on the chocolate mousse. Repeat with the remaining mousse, jam and final cake layer, then leave in the fridge to set.

Lift the cake out of the tin using the cling film, then unwrap. Spread a thin layer of the buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, then roll out the sugarpaste into a large enough circle to cover the cake. Drape over the cake, then work quickly to smooth down the top and sides before trimming any excess icing from the bottom.

To decorate, roll the flower past out very thinly and use a petal cutter to cut 20-25 petals. Use a ball modelling tool to thin the petals around the edges, then leave to set.

Mx the royal icing sugar with 1.5 tsp water and 1/2 tsp black gel colouring, whisking with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Add more water if it’s too thick, more sugar if it’s too thin. I then used Charlotte’s top tip of creating a baking paper collar for the cake to mark out the pattern for the pearl chain with a cocktail stick, before piping the decoration in dots.

Arrange the flower paste petals on top of the cake, securing with a little of the royal icing, then place the cake on a cake board covered in more sugarpaste.

Sit back, admire your handiwork, then eat cake!

Cake and Bake Show, London 2013

Cake-and-Bake-Show-13th-15th-September_trend_main

When I was approached by the lovely PR team behind the Cake and Bake Show to ask if I would like a pair of press passes, it took me all of a second to fire back an email saying ‘yes!’

I’d never been before, but from what I’d heard it would be a baker’s heaven – all the sweet and savoury treats you could wish for, baking supplies and equipment to set you up for life, tonnes of expert demos, and a great opportunity for spotting the rockstars of the baking world.

Ok, so I had to get up at 4.30 in the morning, drive an hour and a quarter to get a coach to London, then get the coach back at 11.30 at night, and not arrive home until 7 in the morning, but it was SO worth it.

My brilliant friend Becky was willing to go along with my insane travel plans, so we turned up at Earls Court and were pretty pleased to see that despite the show being sold out on the Saturday there weren’t any big queues to get in.

While trying to track down the press room, we caught a glimpse of all the amazing goodies on offer – it was pretty overwhelming!

We were kind of hungry when we arrived, so took advantage of the bread, cheese and cakes in the press room. After scoffing down some food, I turned around to see none other than baking GOD Dan Lepard sat at a table. Internally, I was ridiculously excited about this, but for some reason too embarrassed to just go over and say hi – massive wasted opportunity!

The celeb spotting continued throughout the day – pretty much everyone from the current series of Great British Bake Off was there, along with previous winners John Waite and Edd Kimber, and loads of top professional chefs.

We were offered the chance to take part in one of the ‘Classrooms’ – private demonstrations for groups of around 50 people on a wide range of different topics.

Burlesque Baking with Charlotte White

‘Burlesque Baking’ immediately caught my eye, so we went to the session hosted by Charlotte White of Restoration Cake, who was absolutely fabulous – I’ve never seen anyone look quite so glamorous or wear such skyscraper heels to bake in but she totally pulls it off!

She showed us how to ice and decorate a cake in her signature vintage style, which takes inspiration from burlesque artists. Her tips were brilliant, everything from the best way to pick up the sugarpaste and lay it over the cake to piping perfect strings of pearls around the sides – I was inspired, and am going to be attempting to recreate her cake here very soon!

Charlotte White dessert table

Charlotte was also one of the bakers to create a dessert table for the show – basically a showcase of each bakers signature style. Along with the cake catwalk and the ‘wedding cake of the future’ area, this was the place for professional bakers to really show what they can do, and Becky and I were both stunned by just how creative, intricate and fabulous they all were.

Here are a few of my faves…

A lot of the food stalls at the show were giving away free samples, which combined with the food we found in the press room meant we didn’t actually have that much room for buying and eating anything on the day.

Paul A Young brownies

One of the things we just had to try though was Paul A Young’s now infamous marmite brownie, just to see what all the fuss was about.

Becky was definitely not convinced, and to be honest I still haven’t quite made up my mind – on first taste I thought the marmite was way too overpowering, but it was also strangely addictive – put half in the fridge but couldn’t resist going back for sneaky extra bites…

On Cafe macaron

I also bought some macarons from On Cafe – passionfruit and mango, cassis and my favourite, champagne pink peach, as well as a couple of water ganache truffles from The Chocolatier.

We left the Cake and Bake show feeling absolutely stuffed, but also inspired to bake – for anyone with even a slight interest in baking, I would highly recommend you go! Whether you want to stock up on equipment, gape at stunning sugarcraft, learn from the experts or just gobble up some freebies, it’s well worth a visit – I’ll certainly be going back next year!

Strawberry cheesecake cupcakes

strawberry cheesecake cupcakes

The Hummingbird Bakery is possibly THE most well known of all the American-style bakeries and cupcake shops in the UK, so when I was London for a friends birthday the other month, I decided I had to pay a visit to see what all the fuss is about.

I met up with a cake-loving friend and headed to their branch in Soho, which I believe is one of the smaller ones and I’ve heard tales of their being queues out the door, but we were lucky and managed to grab a couple of the bar style seats to eat our cake.

The choice isn’t ridiculously huge, but definitely enough to make it difficult for someone as indecisive as me. They have the ‘classic’ cupcake flavours – vanilla, chocolate, carrot, red velvet and black bottom – as well as two monthly specials which were hummingbird cake and something with bacon (so wrong). They also had I think 6 cakes and cheesecakes sold by the slice and some brownies, whoopie pies and rocky road.

I went for the red velvet as I’ve only ever tried a homemade version and wanted to see if theirs was better. My friend had the black bottom cupcake, and then we decided we’d also share a slice of chocolate cake. The cupcakes were both really, really good, and although there was no way we could finish such a rich cake afterwards we did both try it and like it a lot.

By pure coincidence, about a week after our visit to the bakery, one of my friends at work asked me if I’d like to borrow her copy of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (the original, self titled one).

After such an awesome cake experience I had to say yes, and knew that the first recipe I tried would have to be cupcakes, the only question was which.

As this was when it was still hot and sunny, and the autumnal feeling was still to set in, I decided to use the last of the seasons strawberries and attempt these strawberry cheesecake cupcakes.

They basically consist of a vanilla sponge with juicy strawberries baked in, the classic Hummingbird cream cheese frosting, as featured on the red velvet and black bottom cupcakes above, and a sprinkling of biscuit crumbs on top.

I really loved these, the sponge is light but moist from the strawberries, the cream cheese icing is the best I’ve tried, and you get a bit of all the different tastes in each bite. The only thing I did that deviated from the recipe was only using a fraction of the amount of biscuits given for the topping – it still looks like plenty to me!

I would definitely make these again when strawberry season comes back around, and I’m looking forward to baking more from the Hummingbird book – I may even buy the more recent ones to see if they’re just as good…

Strawberry cheesecake cupcakes (adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

  • 120g plain flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 40g butter
  • 120ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 12 large strawberries, chopped small

For the icing and topping:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 40g digestive biscuits

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, then beat in the butter until the mixture forms a sandy consistency – almost like making shortbread. Add the milk and vanilla and beat to combine, then add the egg and beat again. Divide the chopped strawberries between 12 large cupcake cases, spoon in the cake batter on top, and bake at 170 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, beat together the butter and icing sugar. I find this can only be done by adding the icing sugar a quarter at a time, and adding a little of the cream cheese if the mixture won’t come together. Once the butter and sugar are well creamed, at the cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy, around 4-5 minutes. But as Hummingbird Bakery warn you, don’t overbeat or it will become runny!

Top each cupcake with a swirl of icing, using a spatula to smooth down the sides. Blitz the digestives in a food processor, then sprinkle on top of the cupcakes to finish.

Coconut rum cake with chocolate frosting

Coconut rum cake with chocolate frosting

The intention when I started to make this cake was a simple vanilla sponge, with sweet chocolate buttercream that I could feed to my visiting family and their children.

My plans started to change when I realised I had half a tin of coconut milk in the fridge and less than a quarter of a pack of desiccated coconut in the cupboard – it seemed like fate that vanilla would be turned into coconut, and I thought with a chocolate buttercream it would be almost Bounty-esque.

A bit of Googling for a coconut milk cake recipe led me to this recipe from Dan Lepard, which scaled down to a two-layer 7″ cake required almost exactly the amount of excess coconut products I had to hand.

The only slight downside was that the recipe called for white rum, meaning it would no longer be the child-friendly cake I set out to make.

I say downside – lets be honest, my recent posts are probably a good indication of the fact that I am in no way averse to the inclusion of alcohol in my baking, and white rum and coconut are just perfect partners.

I skipped the step of soaking the sponges in lime juice and more rum as I wasn’t sure how well it would go with the chocolate icing, but the cake was still beautifully moist with a nice bite from the desiccated coconut, and a subtle but definitely noticeable hint of the rum added to the cake batter. If anyone tries telling you the alcohol evaporates during baking, they’re wrong!

I finished the cake with a simple chocolate buttercream with just a little coconut milk added instead of regular milk, and a few Cadbury’s Flake bars crumbled up on top – because what cake isn’t improved by adding more chocolate?

I really liked this cake, and so did all of my testers. Whether you like alcohol in cakes or not, I would highly recommend you give it a go!

Coconut rum cake with chocolate frosting (adapted from Dan Lepard)

  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 35g desiccated coconut
  • 35ml white rum
  • 150g butter
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

For the icing:

  • 130g butter
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 2 Cadbury’s Flake bars

Start by heating the coconut milk until boiling, then take off the heat and add the desiccated coconut and rum. Leave to soak  for half an hour, while you start the sponge. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, for me with an electric beater it takes 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then sift together the flour and baking powder.

Fold in 1/3 of the flour mix, followed by half of the coconut milk, another 1/3 of flour, the rest of the coconut milk and then finish with the last 1/3 of flour. Divide between two greased and lined 7″ sandwich tins, and bake at 160 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until risen and golden.

To make the icing, beat the butter to soften then add the cocoa powder and half the icing sugar. Beat until well combined, then add 1 tbsp coconut milk and the rest of the icing sugar and beat again, until it’s really light and smooth textured. If it seems a bit thick, add a little more coconut milk to get it to the right consistency.

Spread 1/3 of the icing on top of one of the cake layers, then place the other cake on top. Spread the rest of the icing all over the top and sides, then crumble up the Flake bars and sprinkle all over the top before serving.