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!


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!

Chocolate hot cross buns

Chocolate hot cross buns

Yes, I know it’s really way too late to be posting this recipe, but these buns were too good to either not blog about or wait another 11 months to blog about!

Last year I made my first ever hot cross buns, having never really liked them previously. I was pretty happy with how they turned out, considering baking with yeast isn’t my strong point, and so I fancied trying them again this year, but with a bit of a twist.

With a hungry pony to feed, the twist obviously had to be chocolate, so I used a recipe from Delicious Magazine and tweaked it slightly to suit his tastes and what we had in the kitchen cupboards – less spice, no candied peel, dark chocolate instead of milk and sultanas instead of raisins.

Although I’ve only tried a little bite of one, I thought they turned out better than expected, and the pony has been enjoying them warmed up for breakfast for the past couple of days. The orange and spice flavours are both quite subtle but enough to make it more than just a chocolate bun and the chunks of chocolate and sultanas make a nice texture contrast as well as giving bursts of sweetness.

It’s so difficult to find breakfast foods the pony likes that I think I may have to follow Caroline at Cake, Crumbs and Cooking‘s lead and ditch the cross on top to turn them into ‘not hot cross buns’, therefore making it acceptable to bake and eat them all year round!

Chocolate hot cross buns (adapted from Delicious Magazine)

  • 400g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1tsp salt
  • 85g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 14g dried fast action yeast
  • 1 medium egg
  • 190ml lukewarm milk
  • 75g chopped dark chocolate
  • 75g sultanas
  • zest of an orange

For the crosses and for glazing:

  • 50g plain flour
  • 40g caster sugar
  • juice of half an orange

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, spice and salt into a large bowl, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and yeast, then add the egg and milk, starting by mixing in with a fork or spoon, then continuing with your hands until it comes into a rough dough. Turn out onto your worktop and knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is pliable and elastic. Leave in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for an hour and half to two hours, or until doubled in size.

Once risen, add the chocolate, sultanas and orange zest to the dough and knead again, just until the add-ins are well dispersed throughout the dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces, then roll into balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, spaced a couple of centimetres apart. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise again for an hour or so, until the buns have risen and are just starting to touch each other.

To make the crosses, mix the flour with 4-5tbsp water until it reaches a thick, pasty but pipeable consistency. Score crosses into the tops of the buns, then pipe on the flour paste. Bake at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes, until risen and firm but not browning.

Heat the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan and boil until it starts to thicken into a syrup. Brush this on top of the buns while they are still warm, and either serve straight away or toast when you want to eat them.

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls

Sorry, sorry, I know we’re in January now and the ‘C’ word shouldn’t be mentioned for another 48 weeks, but these rolls were so stupidly good I just have to post them now.

I wanted to make something special and a bit festive for the pony to have for breakfast, and inspired by some stolen flavoured cinnamon rolls (that I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw) and the Great British Bake Off Christmas special I came up with these.

I used Paul Hollywood’s recipe for the dough, then created by own filling of ground almonds, glace cherries and chocolate orange bits. The rolls were finished off with a cranberry glaze, which for some reason went perfectly and meant I kept sneaking back to the cake dome again and again…

I definitely doesn’t need to be Christmas to make these but it’s quite likely they will be back on my festive menu for 2013!

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls (basic recipe from BBC Food)

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 20g butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 75ml lukewarm milk
  • 45ml lukewarm water
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 100g chocolate orange segments, chopped
  • 50g (ish) chopped glace cherries
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cranberry sauce

Add the flour, caster sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, then make a well in the centre for the butter, egg, yeast and warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon until it all starts to come together into a sticky dough, then tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Leave to rise in a covered bowl for an hour, or until doubled in size. Knock the dough back then roll out on a floured surface into a large rectangle (I would guess about 16″ x 10″). Mix the ground almonds and sugar together and sprinkle all over the dough, then scatter the chopped cherries and chocolate on top. Roll the dough up from the long edge nearest to you into a big sausage shape, then slice into 8 rounds, about 2″ thick.

Place the rolls in an 8×8 square tin, a couple of centimetres apart, and leave to rise for another hour until doubled again and the rolls are all touching. Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden and smelling amazing. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar and cranberry sauce and add just enough water to make a thick icing. Pour over the rolls while still warm and serve straight away!

Chocolate orange spice cake (GF)

I bought Levi Roots’ Food for Friends cookbook a little while ago on a whim, and I’m so glad I did – every recipe I’ve tried so far has been a resounding success. The recipes are simple, and usually only use a few ingredients, but are packed full of flavour (as you’d expect from a Caribbean chef I suppose!)

The cakes and desserts section is also more extensive than I would have imagined, which is always a good thing in my book.

This chocolate orange spice cake caught my eye, not only because of the delicious combination of flavours but also the fact that it’s gluten and wheat free. Add to that the fact it doesn’t have any butter or oil, and use half fat creme fraiche for the topping, and it’s practically a health food!

I did change it up a bit, using ground almonds rather than toasting and grinding my own, using less of them because I didn’t buy enough, swapping sour cream for the creme fraiche and adding some extra spice to the topping – but I think that just goes to prove it’s a very forgiving recipe!

The cake went down very well when I took it into work, and the pony is now enjoying what’s left of it for his breakfasts. I ma have to sneak one more slice tonight before it’s all gone though…

Chocolate orange spice cake (adapted from Levi Roots’ Food for Friends)

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds

For the topping:

  • 140g dark chocolate
  • 140g half fat creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp hot chilli powder

Start by finely grating the dark chocolate into a bowl (yep, it’s a pain) and add to that the cinnamon and orange zest, then set aside.

Add half of the sugar (85g) to a fairly large bowl with the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture, orange juice and ground almonds and beat again – you will have a pretty thick mixture, a bit like frangipane. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, gradually adding in the remaining 85g caster sugar, until it forms stiff glossy peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture a quarter at a time, making sure it’s well combined but you don’t beat the air out of the air whites. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 8″ round cake tin and bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour, or until risen and pulling away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

To make the topping, put all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl and heat over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so, then spread over the top of the cake. Leave to firm up a bit before cutting into slices and serving.

Cosmopolitan truffles

Happy second birthday We Should Cocoa!

Sadly I haven’t been involved with Choclette and Chele’s chocolate challenge since the start (largely because this blog hasn’t even been running that long), but in the year or so that I have been taking part I’ve had a fantastic time coming up with chocolate creations that use the chosen ingredient or theme.

Thanks to We Should Cocoa I’ve discovered I love blackcurrants and can eat them without an allergic reaction, that chocolate pairs well with goat’s cheese, and that crocodiles make surprisingly cute cakes…

This month Choclette decided the best way to celebrate WSC’s birthday was with a cocktail – an excellent idea, I think everyone will agree.

After much deliberation, I decided the cocktail I wanted to use as inspiration was the Sex and the City favourite, the Cosmopolitan – a properly girly concoction of vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice and a twist of lime.

White chocolate seemed like the natural partner for those flavours, and rather than bake an overcomplicated cake I thought a simple truffle would be best so all the flavours could come through.

These are definitely best suited to people with quite a sweet tooth, but the flavours work well – if you like the cocktail, you’ll probably like these!

Cosmopolitan truffles

  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • zest of an orange
  • zest and juice of a lime
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 10g butter
  • 80ml double cream
  • 100g white chocolate to coat

Put the cranberries in a non-metallic bowl with 1tbsp (15ml) of the triple sec, the orange zest, lime zest and juice and sugar, and leave to soak for half an hour. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat gently until the cranberries soften, then blitz in a food processor until the cranberries are chopped into very fine pieces.

Chop the 150g white chocolate and place in a bowl with the butter. Heat the cream until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and butter. Leave for a minute then stir until all the chocolate has melted. Stir in the cranberries and remaining 15ml of triple sec, then whisk with an electric whisk for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is cooled and has thickened a bit.

At this point I added a couple of drops of pink food colouring, because the cranberries alone hadn’t quite achieved the vivid pink colour I was hoping for, but this is totally optional – depends how much you care about looks!

Chill the mixture in the freezer for an hour or so, then spoon small amounts of the mixture and roll into balls (it’s a fairly soft truffle so I found dusting my hands with icing sugar helped a lot). Put back in the freezer while you melt the remaining white chocolate, then either did the truffles in the chocolate or spoon the chocolate over the truffles, whichever way you find easiest. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to eat!

Chocolate orange fudge cake

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

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

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

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

Chocolate orange fudge cake

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

For the icing

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

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

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


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!

Chocolate orange marble layer cakes

Last weekend, I asked the pony to choose something from my to-bake list for me to make.

When he chose chocolate orange cake, I was a little disappointed, as I had been hoping for something a bit more challenging. But a promise is a promise, so I set about thinking of ways I could put a bit of a twist on a simple chocolate orange cake.

I decided to combine it with another item on my to-bake list, marble cake. But not content at that, I decided that rather than one big cake, I would make several mini layer cakes (yes, I did have quite a bit of time on my hands).

I baked the sponge in a 9×13 rectangle tin, then used a tin can to cut out rounds. I ended up with 4 mini cakes, each 3 layers high, sandwiched and covered with chocolate ganache.

A little extravagant maybe, but I think they looked quite impressive and the pony enjoyed eating them!

Chocolate orange marble layer cakes (sponge adapted from Apple and Spice):

Makes 4 individual cakes

  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1tbsp milk
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 300ml double cream
  • 300g dark chocolate

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time. Sift in the flour and baking powder, and fold until just combined. Divide the mixture in half, then to one bowl stir in the zest and juice of the orange, and to the other bowl the cocoa powder and milk.

Spoon the two mixtures alternately into a greased and lined 9×13″ tin, so it looks like this:

Using a knife or skewer, swirl the two mixtures together lightly, being careful not to over-mix. Bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour, or until golden and springy. Leave to cool, then turn out of the tin and remove the baking paper.

Using a tin can, or circular biscuit cutter, cut out 12 rounds from the sponge (I could only get 11, but you can get two more halves from the edges).

For the ganache, heat the cream until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Leave to cool until thick enough to spread.

To assemble the cakes, take four of the rounds and spread a layer of ganache on top. Top with another sponge, then ganache, sponge and ganache again, finishing by spreading a layer of ganache all over to act as a crumb coat.

Chill for half an hour, then reheat the remaining ganache to a pouring consistency. Pour on top of the four cakes, then spread down the sides with a spatula to cover evenly. Leave to set, then eat!

Chocolate orange cheesecake

I was forced to choose, I’d probably say cheesecake is my favourite dessert (with ice cream a very close second).

Chocolate cheesecake though, not a fan at all. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always preferred plain cheesecake with a fruity topping – chocolate cheesecake just never seems to be as good.

Unlike me, the friendly pony likes everything better if there’s chocolate involved, which is how I ended up making this chocolate orange cheesecake.

As chocolate cheesecakes go, it was probably the best I’ve had – the texture was certainly spot on, and it was good enough for me to have several slices!

The recipe could also be easily adapted to other flavours – the original recipe suggests coffee, I think a mint version could work well too… So this will definitely be my go-to chocolate cheesecake recipe in the future.

Chocolate orange cheesecake (adapted from Lindt):

  • 250g chocolate digestives
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 575g cream cheese
  • 60g double cream
  • 200g orange flavoured chocolate (I used a Terry’s chocolate orange and made up the rest of the weight with dark chocolate)
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 100ml orange juice
  • 4 eggs

Blend the digestives in a food processor until they turn into crumbs, then gradually pour the butter in while the mixer is running until the mixture comes together.  Press down into the base of a 9″ round springform tin, then leave to chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

Melt the chocolate in a saucepan with the orange juice over a low heat, then set aside to cool. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until no lumps remain, then add in the cream and eggs. Fold in the chocolate orange mixture, then pour into the prepared tin and bake at 120 degrees for about an hour and a half, or until the cheesecake is set but still has a wobble.

I put a tray filled with water in the bottom of the oven to create steam while the cheesecake is cooking, and leave it to cool in the oven for at least 2 hours before turning out of the tin. Chill overnight before serving.


EDIT – I’ve kindly been asked by Lisa of Sweet as Sugar Cookies to link this to Sweets for a Saturday – an awesome round up of delicious looking cakes and bakes – perfect for ruining the new year’s diet!