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.

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.

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.

Bourbon pecan pie cupcakes

Bourbon pecan pie cupcakes

If you like a boozy cake, these cupcakes could be for you.

Even if you don’t, you still might like them – I would never drink straight up bourbon whiskey, but somehow when you add butter and sugar the taste is transformed into something altogether different, and far more pleasant.

I was thinking of different ways of incorporating alcohol into cupcakes, and was originally going down the cocktail route, until a friend suggested whiskey as something different to try.

(On a side note, while writing this I couldn’t decide whether I should be saying whiskey or whisky. I decided to research it, and it turns out that officially it should be whiskey for a bourbon, but whisky for a scotch. Never knew that before!)

My mind-cogs started turning, and soon the idea of bourbon pecan pie came into my head. Whiskey, caramel, pecans – how could it not work?

I decided the cake itself needed pecans, brown sugar and bourbon (Jim Beam, kindly donated from my dad’s ‘not for guests’ alcohol cabinet) and based it on these coffee cupcakes I made a little while ago.

The cakes obviously needed a pecan pie filling, and so I made one based on a Betty Crocker recipe I found online, but omitting the eggs as they seemed like a bit of a strange addition.

For the icing, I was torn between buttercream and cream cheese, but decided to go for cream cheese as there was already  lot of sweetness going on in the cakes, and I thought they could probably do with a bit of a tang to cut through it.

I’m really, really pleased with how the cupcakes turned out – the sponge is light but moist, the filling sweet, sticky and pecan pie-esque, and the cream cheese icing was definitely the right choice.

One of my taste testers at work thought they were a bit too boozy, and you certainly do get a good hit of bourbon, but even though I’m not a whiskey drinker I still enjoyed them. I guess it’s down to personal taste, you can always cut back if you’re worried they’ll be too strong. Either way, they are a ridiculously indulgent treat that I would definitely make again.

Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 40g pecan nuts
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 80g light brown sugar
  • 165g butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tbsp bourbon whiskey
  • 165g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 50g pecan nuts
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 30g light brown sugar
  • 120g golden syrup
  • 10g cornflour
  • 60g butter
  • 3 tbsp whipping cream
  • 1.5 tbsp bourbon whiskey

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 12 pecan halves, to decorate

To make the cupcakes, start by grinding the pecan nuts in a food processor with the caster and light brown sugar, until no large chunks remain.

Beat the butter and pecan sugar mix together for 4-5 minutes, until really light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla bean paste and bourbon whiskey. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt, then fold into the cake batter until just combined.

Divide the mixture between 10-12 cupcake cases in a muffin tin, filling each with about 60g of batter, then bake at 170 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until risen, golden, and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the tin after 10 minutes and place on a wire rack to cool.

To make the filling, add both sugars, the golden syrup, butter and cornflour to a medium saucepan, and warm over a medium heat, stirring until the butter melts and all the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer, then add the bourbon whiskey. Keep stirring until the liquid becomes a thick syrup, then remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Stir in the pecans and leave to cool completely.

For the icing, beat the butter and 50g sugar until well mixed, then gradually add the rest of the sugar, beating constantly (if it seems like it’s too dry and won’t come together, add a little of the cream cheese). Once all the sugar has been mixed in, add 2 tbsp of caramel from the filling (without any pecans in) and the cream cheese, then beat for 3-4 minutes until light and creamy. Chill in the fridge for half an hour, or until thick enough to pipe.

To assemble the cupcakes, cut a round hole in the centre of each cake, about 1.5cm diameter, going down to 1cm away from the bottom of the cake. Remove the centres, then spoon the pecan caramel filling into the holes, dividing equally between all of the cupcakes.

Take the centres you removed from the cakes and cut them in half horizontally, then place the top half back on top of the filling – it should be level with the top and look like a normal cupcake again.

Fit a piping bag with a large star nozzle and fill with the cream cheese icing. Pipe in swirls on top of the cupcakes, then finish by decorating with a pecan half on top.

Cherry cheesecake

cherry cheesecake

If there’s one fruit I’ve really gone crazy for this year, it’s cherries.

They’ve never really been my favourite, and I one point I wouldn’t touch them, but this year I just can’t get enough. It may well have something to do with the fact that when I was in Romania cherry trees were in abundance, and the fruits they produced were the sweetest, juiciest cherries I have ever tasted.

DSCF3792

My host in my first week in Romania, Christina, gave me a jar of her homemade cherry jam to bring home with me. I somehow managed to look after it for 3 more weeks of travelling around, and decided that I would save it for something special – and really, what could be more special than cheesecake?

Cheesecake is one of my favourite desserts, both to bake and to eat, and cherry cheesecake is a classic flavour combination.

I based my cheesecake on this recipe from BBC Good Food, but rather than making a cherry puree I used my fab cherry jam. It’s nothing like a ‘jam’ you would buy here, it’s more like whole cherries in a thick sort of syrup, and it’s not as sweet as a jam either – the downside of this is you can, and I do, eat it by the spoonful…

Instead of a creme fraiche topping I used more cream cheese, beaten with a little sugar, and used fresh cherries to decorate. The jam swirled into the cheesecake mixture created wonderful little fruity bursts in each bite, and the texture was, for me, spot on.

If you want to make this, I would recommend either buying the absolute best jam you can find, or making your own, otherwise I think it would end up being too sweet. I hope that doesn’t put you off though, because it really was delicious!

Cherry cheesecake (adapted from BBC Good Food)

For the base:

  • 140g digestive biscuits
  • 35g butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 500g medium fat cream cheese
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 100ml low fat creme fraiche
  • 100g cherry jam

For the topping:

  • 100g medium fat cream cheese
  • 15g icing sugar
  • 8-10 cherries, halved and stoned

To make the base, blitz the biscuits in a food processor to form fine crumbs, then with the mixer running pour in the melted butter. Press the biscuit crumbs down into the base of an 8″ springform tin, and bake for about 10 minutes at 170 degrees, until just starting to crisp.

While the base is cooling, make the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar together until smooth, then add the eggs, vanilla, cornflour, lemon zest and juice and beat again. Finally, add the creme fraiche, beat and pour over the cooled base.

Bake the cheesecake with a tray of hot water on the shelf below, for 10 minutes at 170 degrees, then reduce the heat to 110 degrees and bake for a further hour – the cheesecake should be set but still wobble. Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake inside to cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge overnight.

For the topping, beat the icing sugar into the cream cheese and spread over the cheesecake. Arrange the halved cherries around the edge to decorate.

Naturally red velvet cake

Red velvet cake is definitely a dessert with the wow factor – who can fail to be impressed when the first slice is cut, revealing vivid red layers of sponge, sandwiched with sweet, smooth cream cheese frosting?

The only problem is the entire bottle of food colouring that’s used to achieve such a striking effect – I know I’m not the only baker out there who is more than a little hesitant to put that much artificial colouring into a dessert.

Food colouring was never used in the original red velvet cakes, so I decided to attempt a version using only natural ingredients.

In theory, the reaction between the cocoa powder and the buttermilk and vinegar should be enough to turn it red, but I didn’t want to leave it to chance.

As luck would have it, this week the lovely people at Riverford Home Delivery Cornwall sent me a fabulous box of veg specifically for baking, including two huge bags of beetroot – and so the idea of a beet-red velvet cake was born.

I’m obviously not the first person to come up with this idea, and I found what looked like the perfect recipe at Korena in the Kitchen for a 6 inch layer cake.

Instead of a cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream I went for a basic cream cheese frosting, and I kept the cake in two layers rather than slicing into four, but otherwise I followed the recipe pretty much exactly.

I wasn’t totally happy with how it turned out, as the sponge was a bit too dense and the colour was a bit on the purple side, but I think with a bit of tweaking it could work well. I still feel much happier eating this version than one with a whole bottle of food colouring!

Thanks to Riverford for sending me the beetroot – I also received some lovely looking courgettes and avocados, which I have some interesting experimental plans for over the next week or so…

Naturally red velvet cake (adapted from Korena in the Kitchen)

  • 115g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 185g cooked beetroot, pureed*
  • 160g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 125ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp rice vinegar

For the icing:

  • 100g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g cream cheese (I used light)

*To prepare the beetroot, I washed and peeled about 10 mini beets, and roasted in a pan filled with water and covered with foil for 2 hours. They were still not soft enough after that long, so I gave them 10 minutes in the microwave and then pureed them in a food processor, before measuring out the amount I needed.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the beetroot and vanilla extract and beat again – it should turn an amazing shade of purple!

Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl (flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa) and add the buttermilk, lemon juice and vinegar to another bowl. Fold in one third of the dry mix, then half of the liquid; another third of the dry mix, the remaining liquid, and finally the remaining dry ingredients.

Divide the cake batter between two 6″ cake tins and bake at 170 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, beat the butter to soften, then add the icing sugar and beat until no lumps remain. Add the vanilla and cream cheese, then beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, or until very light and fluffy. Chill in the fridge for an hour or so, until the icing has firmed up a bit.

Spread a layer of icing over one of the sponges, then place the other on top. Spread a thin layer of icing all over to crumb coat, then leave the cake in the fridge for half an hour to set. Finish by spreading the rest of the icing all over the top and sides of the cake, then cut into slices and serve.

tea time treats

I’ve just realised that this cake is suitable for the June Tea Time Treats Challenge, hosted by Kate at What Kate Baked and Karen at Lavender and Lovage – Kate chose layer cakes as the theme, and I didn’t think I’d make something in time but I’m pretty sure this counts!

Orange, ginger and white chocolate cake

Orange, ginger and white chocolate cake

When I saw this zesty orange ginger carrot cake with white chocolate frosting over on Sweetapolita, it was instantly bookmarked and I knew it wouldn’t be long until I would have to try it myself.

Luckily the opportunity came a week later when I was having a farewell dinner with my dad, mum and step dad before leaving for Romania. I thought it would have elements that appealed to them all – my step dad loves white chocolate, my mum I thought would like the ginger, and my dad likes most things that aren’t too sweet or chocolatey.

I adapted it quite a bit, halving the recipe and baking in a 6″ tin, switching carrot for butternut squash and using a cream cheese white chocolate frosting rather than buttercream just to sandwich the layers and spread on top, rather than completely covering the whole cake.

Even after an hour and a half in the car on a sunny day (sorry cake!) it was very well received, and my dad even gave it the huge compliment of saying he wish he hadn’t given so much of it away to my mum and step dad.

It was a very moist cake, and when I took it out of the tin it sort of sunk in on itself a bit, so if I made it again I’d possible bake it for a little bit longer on a lower temperature, but other than that I was very happy and kind of wish I had another slice to eat now…

Orange, ginger and white chocolate cake (adapted from Sweetapolita)

  • 115g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 75ml milk
  • 250ml butternut squash, finely grated
  • 40g crystalised ginger

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 100g white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 100g icing sugar

Beat the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat again. Sift in half the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger and fold in, stir in the milk and then sift in the remaining flour mixture and fold again until just combined. Stir in the butternut squash and crystalised ginger then pour into a greased and lined 6″ round baking tin.

Bake at 170 degrees for about 50 minutes (or a little lower and slower if you want) then leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the icing, beat the butter to soften then add the cream cheese and beat until no lumps remain. Stir in the melted white chocolate and sift in the icing sugar, then beat until light and airy. If it’s a bit too runny, chill in the fridge for half an hour and then beat again before icing the cake.

Slice the cake into three layers and use the icing to sandwich between them and spread on top. Finish with more crystalised ginger on top to decorate, then slice and enjoy!

Banana and coconut loaf cake (GF)

When one of my colleagues recently went on maternity leave, naturally I wanted to see her off with a cake, as you do.

Unfortunately things didn’t go quite to plan – she ended up being a bit too pregnant to travel to the office, and apparently is allergic to bananas anyway (how I have known her two years without finding that out I have no idea!)

Anyway, with the pony on hand cake never goes to waste, and a few other people at work had a slice too, including my colleague who can’t eat wheat flour and always appreciates a wheat free bake.

 

This banana and coconut cake combines two of my favourite flavours with a delicious texture and the cream cheese icing finishes it off nicely as the cake itself isn’t too sweet.

The original recipe came from Tart to Heart, a blog which, if you haven’t already seen it, is amazing – I highly recommend you go look and drool immediately!

Banana and coconut loaf cake (GF) (Recipe adapted from Tart to Heart)

  • 120g gluten free plain flour
  • 100g oat flour
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 35g sunflower oil
  • 45g greek yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and nutmeg into a bowl with the coconut and stir in. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, coconut milk, sugar, oil, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla, then add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well until just combined.

Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin (I think mine is about 9×5″) and bake at 180 degrees for about an hour, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.

Cream cheese icing

  • 100g cream cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 100g icing sugar

Beat the butter to soften, then add in half the cream cheese and all of the sugar and beat until no lumps remain. Add the remaining cream cheese and beat until just combined. Chill in the fridge to firm up, then spread on top of the cooled cake.