Apple, marzipan and chocolate rolls

Time has really gotten away with me this month, and of all the baking challenges I had hoped to take part in, Random Recipes, hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, is the only one I’ve actually gotten around to baking for – I’m hoping April will be a bit less hectic, but I have a rather strong suspicion it will be just the same!


The theme for this month’s RR is one of my favourites – cuttings, memories and clippings. I rarely delve into my cuttings so it’s always good to get a bit of a nudge, so I dutifully handed over a stack to the pony and asked him to choose.

I’m never entirely certain how random his selections are, but the spiced apple rolls he picked, from an old Waitrose Seasons magazine, certainly appealed to me to bake and to him to eat.

I did alter the recipe a little, swapping raisins for chocolate and omitting the spice, but I think that’s ok because in the RR rules it does state that you can alter the recipe for dietary requirements, and as far as the pony is concerned keeping his chocolate intake up is a necessity rather than just a desire…

The dough seemed a little on the dry side when I was kneading it, but it rose well, made it easy to roll, and baked up lovely and fluffy, so it may well be a recipe I end up going back to in the future. It also seemed like too much apple when I was trying to roll them, but they held together once baked and all the apple juice that came out in the cooking helped to keep the rolls soft and moist.

The flavour combination worked really well – I’m not the biggest fan of apples and chocolate together but in this, with the marzipan, it all came together, and the pony said they would be perfect for his breakfasts this week, so all in all a success!

Thanks Dom for encouraging me to bake from my cuttings selection, and apologies to all the other challenge hosts who I haven’t been able to bake for this month – I will try harder next month, I promise!

Apple, marzipan and chocolate rolls (adapted from a Waitrose Seasons magazine recipe)

  • 350g strong plain flour
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 1 medium egg
  • 100g butter
  • 75ml (ish) warm water
  • 2 apples (I used Golden Delicious)
  • 200g marzipan, chopped
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped
  • icing sugar to dust

Mix together the flour, sugar and yeast in a large bowl, then make a well in the centre and add the egg. Melt the butter in a heatproof measuring jug, then add enough water to bring the total volume of liquid up to 175ml. Pour this into the well with the egg, then stir it all together using a metal spoon until the mixture forms a rough dough. Turn it out onto your work surface, and knead for a good 10 minutes, then place back in the bowl, cover, and leave to rise for about an hour and a half, or until doubled in size.

Once risen, knock back the dough and roll out into a rectangle roughly 50cm long, 15cm tall. Peel,core, and dice the apples, then scatter over the dough with the chopped chocolate and marzipan, making sure they’re all spread out evenly, right the way down the length of the dough but leaving a 1cm border along the top and bottom (long edges) of the dough.

Roll up the dough from one of the long edges, into a long sausage shape, then cut into 9 equal pieces. Place the rolls in an 8×8″ square tin (greased if it’s metal, mine was silicon so I didn’t bother) and leave to rise for another 30 minutes – 1 hour, until risen again. Bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a serving plate, dust with icing sugar, and serve warm.


Chocolate, hazelnut and marzipan torte

Chocolate, hazelnut and marzipan torte

My ‘to-blog’ list is just ridiculous at the minute, I have such a backlog to get through!

I don’t want to complain too much, because I’m glad to have lots of successful bakes to share as well as a couple of reviews which I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to carry out, but it does mean that I’m somewhat behind on posting and only just on time for entering two of this month’s blogging challenges.


This month’s Random Recipes challenge, set by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, was a little different to usual – the choice of book was completely down to us.

I had a little moment of panic at the thought of such freedom, but quickly decided it would make sense to choose something from my most recently purchased recipe book, Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen.

I handed it over to the pony for the random selection, and was very pleased with his choice as it was one that had stood out to me the very first time I flicked through the book – a chocolate hazelnut torte, topped with a layer of marzipan and chocolate ganache.

Which brings me nicely onto the second challenge I’m entering this for – Classic French, hosted by Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes. Ganache is the theme so this torte works perfectly!


The cake itself is delicious and went down very well with all my taste testers – a really moist yet light textured sponge with a great balance of flavours – it sounds like quite a lot going on with chocolate, hazelnut, rum and the marzipan, but they all complement each other perfectly.

I had heard good things about Boutique Baking and based on this recipe I’m not disappointed – I can’t wait to try some of Peggy’s signature pretty cupcakes and triple-layer cakes as part of my mission to improve my decorating skills this year.

Chocolate, hazelnut and marzipan torte (from Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen)

  • 150g whole hazelnuts
  • 75g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g butter
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 3 medium eggs, seperated
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 20g caster sugar

To finish:

  • 200g marzipan
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 60ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose

Start by blitzing the hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground, then add in the chopped chocolate, cinnamon and flour and blitz again until the mixture has a sand-like texture. Beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, then add in the egg yolks and rum and beat again to combine. Fold in the chocolate and hazelnut mixture, then whisk the egg whites and caster sugar into stiff peaks and fold in, a third at a time. Spread the mixture into a greased and lined 8″ round cake tin and bake at 150 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until risen, springy to the touch and starting to crack around the edges. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

To make the ganache, heat the cream until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate. Stir to melt the chocolate, then add in the liquid glucose and leave to cool. Roll out the marzipan on a surface dusted with icing sugar, to a little larger than an 8″ circle. Spread the ganache on top (saving about 2 tbsp) and chill in the fridge until completely set.

Use the cake tin to cut out a perfect 8″ circle from the marzipan. Turn the cake upside down onto a serving plate so the perfectly flat bottom is on top, warm the remaining ganache and spread a thin layer on top of the cake for the marzipan to stick to. Carefully lift the marzipan circle and place on top of the cake – then you’re ready to serve, enjoy!

Chocolate Easter nests – and return of the chicks!

Thanks to WordPress putting my Easter Chick cupcakes on Freshly Pressed on Thursday, my blog has had insane amounts of views and the most comments I’ve ever had – thank you WordPress!

The marzipan chicks that topped the cupcakes have proved to be rather popular, so I’m pleased that they get to feature in this post as well!

These Easter Nests are the simplest ever treat to make, perfect if you’re looking for something that children can help to make or if you’re just a big fan of mini eggs…

I used an Annabel Karmel recipe for these, but really all you need is shredded wheat, chocolate and mini eggs and I’m sure they’d turn out great!

Chocolate Easter nests (recipe from Annabel Karmel)

Makes 8

  • 5 shredded wheat
  • 75g milk chocolate
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 3tbsp golden syrup
  • 50g butter
  • 1x 100g bag mini eggs

Use your fingers to break up the shredded wheat in a bowl – it takes a bit of time but you don’t want there to be any non-chocolatey lumps. Place the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat over a low temperature, stirring until smooth. Pour over the shredded wheat and stir in until all the shredded wheat has been coated in the chocolate mixture.

Line a cupcake tin with 8 paper cases, then divide the mixture between them. Press down and up the sides a little, so it forms a bowl shape. Place 3 mini eggs in the middle of each and leave in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

If you want to top with cute marzipan chicks, the how-to is here!

Easter chick orange and almond flourless cupcakes (GF)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes 8 cupcakes

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

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

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

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

For the chicks (makes 12):

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

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

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

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

Battenburg cake

I’ve been wanting to make a battenburg cake for a while, mainly to see if it’s really as difficult as the contestants on the Great British Bake Off made it look.

I wanted to keep it traditional though, so I took Mary Berry’s basic recipe but got rid of the coffee and walnuts and added red food colouring for the colour contrast.

It didn’t turn out quite as perfect as I would have liked – my baking paper tin divider fell over while cooking so the sponges weren’t the same size, and when sliced the cake revealed slightly mismatching rectangles rather than perfect squares…

I also didn’t have pink colouring so used red instead, and ended up with an orange and white checked cake, although it did produce a good colour contrast.

Still, it tasted how a Battenburg should, and that’s what really matters, right?!

Battenburg cake (adapted from the Great British Bake Off – How to Bake):

Serves about 8

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1tsp pink or red food colouring
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
  • 250g golden marzipan

Start by preparing an 8×8″ square baking tin, by folding a piece of baking paper, cut to fit the width of the tin, to create a divider, like so:

Mary uses the all in one method for this sponge, but I’m not a fan, so I creamed the butter and sugar together, before beating in the eggs and vanilla, then folding in the flour and ground almonds. Divide the mixture between two bowls (I weighed it for accuracy but you can probably do it by eye) then add 1tbsp milk and 1 tsp red food colouring to one bowl, and 1tbsp + 1tsp milk to the other bowl. make sure both mixtures are well combined, then spread into each side of the prepared tin.

Bake at then leave to cool. When the cakes are cool, remove from the tin. If you’re lucky you’ll have perfectly equal sized sponges, but if not, trim them to the same width and cut each in half, so you have four long rectangles of sponge.

Roll out the marzipan to the width of the sponges and long enough to wrap around them as a block. brush a strip of warmed apricot jam onto the marzipan, then place two fingers of sponge – making sure you have one of each colour.

Brush these with more jam, then place the other two sponges on top, white on top of red and red on top of white. Brush the whole thing with the remaining jam, then roll to cover with the marzipan.

Trim any overhanging marzipan along the length of the cake, then slice each end so it looks neat. If you want to get fancy, pinch together the marzipan along the top edges – I tried this but it didn’t really work… Cut into slices and eat!

Marzipan chocolate cupcakes

I made these to take into work on the last day before Christmas, along with the orange shortbread thumbprints I blogged a while ago.

The original recipe was for a loaf cake, but after spooning the cake mix into my ginormous loaf tin, I realised I’d end up with a rather sad flat looking loaf if I carried on, so I decided to turn it into cupcakes instead.

When they came out of the oven I loved how they looked – little eruptions of marzipan oozing out of the top – but I’d already decided that chocolate cupcakes with marzipan and chocolate chips wasn’t QUITE decadent enough, so I added a thick ganache to finish them off.

I was a bit concerned by how heave they were that the cake would be too hard and dense, but i think it must have just been the amount of marzipan and chocolate chips weighing them down – they tasted great and went down a treat at work and with the pony.

Marzipan chocolate cupcakes (recipe adapted from The Chocolate and Coffee Bible):

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 115g butter
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 3tbsp cocoa powder
  • 130g marzipan, chopped
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and fold in with the marzipan and chocolate chips. Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool, then remove from the cases.

For the ganache:

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 75ml double cream

Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling. Pour over the chocolate, then stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Leave to cool, then spread on top of the cupcakes.

Mini Christmas cakes – Part 2

After a month or so of regular feeding with whisky, my little baked bean tin Christmas cakes were ready for decoration.

I won’t go into loads of detail, the photos hopefully speak for themselves, so here we go!

First, cut off the tops of your cakes so they’re level. Don’t throw away the scraps, they can be made into truffles!

Roll out the marzipan about 3mm thick. Cut out a round the same size as the cake top, and a long strip that can wrap around the sides.

Brush the cakes all over with melted apricot jam, then place the marzipan on top, pinching together where the top and sides meet. Leave for a day before icing.

Brush the marzipan all over with vodka (or water). Roll out the white icing using a lot of icing sugar to stop it sticking. Measure the cake up each side and across the top so you know how large a circle of icing you need – i went a lot bigger to be on the safe side!

Drape the icing over the cake, then smooth down on the top. Cup your hands to smooth down the sides until you get to the bottom, then cut around the cake. If you’re cutting out any shapes like I did, you can do this from the scraps around the outside of the cake.

You can decorate these cakes any way you want, but I went simple with cut out stars and white icing (from a tube!).

As I’m giving these as gifts I wrapped in cellophane, tied with a ribbon and added a gift tag. They look prettier in real life than in the picture!

Frankfurter Kranz

So as I mentioned in my previous post, the theme of this month’s Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club was ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’, and I decided to make a Frankfurter Kranz.

It took quite a lot of research to decide on a cake which was authentically German enough but also would look good – I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make a one-layer streusel cake look very attractive!

When I found this I went out and bought a bundt tin especially (which now I feel I have to make good use of, so be prepared for lots of bundt cakes in the future!) and started working out how I’d make the cake.

It’s not totally traditional, as I didn’t have any rum and couldn’t bring myself to use 6 egg yolks to make a German buttercream, but I think it’s close enough to count!

Frankfurter Kranz (adapting this recipe for the cake, with this recipe for buttercream)

For the sponge:

  • 200g butter
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 220g plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon

Thoroughly grease a 10″ bundt cake – I’m yet to master the art of getting the cake out easily. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time, adding in a little of the flour if it looks like it might curdle. Beat in the lemon zest and juice, then sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in until just combined. Spread the mixture into the tin and bake for about an hour at 180 degrees, or until golden and springy.

For the buttercream:

  • 170g softened butter
  • 420g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • juice of 1 lemon

Beat the butter for a minute to soften, then add in half of the sugar and the milk and beat again. When it’s well mixed, add the rest of the sugar, lemon and vanilla and keep beating for 3 or 4 minutes until really light and fluffy.

For the almond praline:

  • 90g flaked almonds
  • 200g sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp butter

Spread the butter evenly over a baking tray and set aside. Heat the sugar and water gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil. When it reaches 115 degrees C (soft ball stage) add in the almonds, and keep on the heat, stiring, until the syrup caramelizes. Quickly pour it onto the buttered tray, then once it has cooled either smash up with a rolling pin or blitz in a food blender until it’s in small pieces, but not crumbs.

To assemble the cake

  • 3tbsp blackcurrant jam
  • 8 coloured marzipan balls

Once the cake has cooled, slice into 3 layers. Spread the bottom and middle layers with the jam, then with some of the buttercream, and reassemble. Use a thin layer of buttercream to crumb-coat, then spread the rest over the cake evenly. Arrange the marzipan balls on top, then cover the rest of the cake in the almond praline.

This cake took me 2 days to make, but I’m sure if you don’t have the inconvenience of a job it could be done a lot quicker!

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!