Autumn Hedgerow Celebration Cake (Apple, Blackberry & Salted Caramel)

Cakes

As someone who is perpetually cold I favour the summer months weather-wise, but when it comes to food seasons, Autumn is the winner for me. Root vegetables, roasts, comforting one-pot dinners and baked fruits, sugared and spiced; you can’t beat them. With this in mind and as an ode to the season and the produce that comes with it, I’ve created a hedgerow-themed celebration cake. Made up of spiced sponges studded with Bramley apple pieces, a tart blackberry compote and smooth salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream- it’s a bit of a project bake, but so worth the effort.

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • 250g golden syrup
  • 190g unsalted butter
  • 175g light brown soft sugar
  • 375g self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • large pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 260ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 very large Bramley apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1tsp corn flour

For the blackberry compote

  • 450g fresh blackberries
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 5-6tbsp caster sugar

For the Swiss meringue buttercream (I’d only attempt this with electric whisk/beaters!)

  • 150g caster sugar, 50g butter, 100ml double cream, salt (this is for the caramel which is added to a Swiss meringue buttercream base)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 275g unsalted butter, very soft (but not greasy)

To decorate

  • fresh blackberries, hazelnuts, apple crisps, rosemary sprigs

Method

  1. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins. Preheat the oven to 170c.
  2. Start off by making the cakes. To do this place the syrup, butter and light brown soft sugar in a saucepan and melt over a medium heat. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, spices, salt and bicarbonate of soda, then make a well in the middle. Break the eggs into a jug and add the milk, then stir together with a fork and add into the well, along with the melted butter mixture. Whisk everything together with a hand whisk until just combined.
  4. Toss the apple pieces in corn flour and fold in, then distribute the batter between the two cake tins. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Once baked let the cakes cool completely in the tins.
  5. Meanwhile, make the blackberry compote by placing the blackberries, lemon juice and zest and sugar in a saucepan set over a medium heat. Cook, stirring often until thickened and jammy. Set aside to cool.
  6. For the buttercream, start off by making a salted caramel sauce.To do this put the sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan and set it over a low heat. Wait until the sugar has all melted (swirl the pan to encourage it to do so but don’t stir!) then up the heat and allow it to reach a deep golden brown. When it gets to this stage, add the butter and stir (it will spit a little), then add the cream and stir again for a couple more minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and once cool enough to taste add salt to your liking. Set aside to cool completely.
  7. While the caramel is cooling, place the egg whites and caster sugar in a saucepan and whisk together (just a hand whisk will do here). Keep stirring over a medium heat until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, then transfer to a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until it’s completely cool and will hold a stiff peak.
  8. Now continue to whisk, adding a heaped tablespoon of the butter every few seconds. Whisk until it’s all come together and is thick and glossy, then add 3-4 heaped tablespoons of your cooled caramel (add a little more or less to taste). Don’t worry if the mix looks curdled at any point, whisking will bring it back together with time. Once it’s ready you can start assembling the cake.
  9. Remove the cakes from the tins. If they’re domed at all, even off the tops, then slice each sponge in half, leaving you with 4 even layers. Place the first layer on your serving plate. Pile half the buttercream into a piping bag and pipe around the edge of the first layer twice (leaving a roughly 1.5 inch wall of buttercream). Fill this with a third of the blackberry compote then repeat the process until all the sponges are used up.
  10. Use the remaining buttercream to cover the whole cake, semi-naked style. Decorate as desired- I like rustic/natural decorations but the world is your oyster!

Spiced Fig Cake with Brown Butter Caramel Sauce

Cakes

Jammy baked figs, warming spices and a slightly nutty, salty-sweet sauce; it’s seasonal bakes like this which make the transition from Summer to Autumn that bit easier (even when the rain is unrelenting, my holiday a distant memory and the sky an ominous shade of purple-grey).

Ingredients

Brown butter caramel

  • 75g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • good pinch salt

Spiced fig cake (makes one 8 inch cake)

  • 175g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 3tbsp milk
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch salt
  • 6-8 figs
  • 1tbsp demerara sugar

Method

  1. Start by making the caramel. Place the butter in a pan and melt down over a low heat. Once melted, increase the heat and foam until browned. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool.
  2. Tip the caster sugar into a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently, swirling occasionally (but not stirring) until it melts. Increase the heat until the caramel reaches a deep golden brown, then add the browned butter and stir (take care, it will spit a little). Once the butter is well incorporated add the cream and stir. Cook for a further couple of minutes until slightly thickened, then add the salt to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170c and grease/line an 8 inch baking tin. Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a little of the flour here if the mix looks like it might curdle). Mix in the lemon zest and milk.
  4. Add the flour, spices and salt to the bowl and fold in with a large metal spoon. Dice 2/3 of the figs and fold those into the mixture too, then scrape it all into the prepared tin. Slice the remaining figs into 6ths and arrange on top of the cake, then sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Once baked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack. You can serve this cold or warm (I prefer the latter), but either way, warm up the caramel just before serving and drizzle all over the cake slices.

Enjoy!

Greengage, Blackberry and Hazelnut Galette with Spelt Pastry

Uncategorized

Galettes are super versatile, simple to shape and look really impressive. This one is filled with a hazelnut frangipane, greengages tossed in vanilla, and an early crop of blackberries; a delicious celebration of late summer produce, especially when served warm from the oven with a generous helping of ice cream or whipped mascarpone.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 150g spelt flour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 30g golden caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2tsp white wine vinegar
  • 50ml fridge-cold water
  • zest 1 lemon

For the filling

  • 100g unsalted butter, soft
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, 1 for the frangipane, 1 for glazing
  • 100g hazelnuts, blitzed until fine
  • 75g plain flour
  • 300g greengages, halved and de-stoned
  • 1/2tbsp corn flour
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • handful blackberries
  • 1/2tbsp demerara sugar
  • sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Method

  1. Start off by making the pastry. Place the flours, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage add the water, vinegar and lemon zest and pulse again until the mix just comes together in large lumps (alternatively, rub the butter into the flours, salt and sugar using your fingertips then stir in the water, vinegar and lemon zest using a cutlery knife). Tip the dough out and shape into a disc using your hands. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
  2. While the pastry is chilling, prepare the filling, starting with the hazelnut frangipane. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until light and creamy. Add in one egg and beat again until well incorporated, then fold through the ground hazelnuts and plain flour. Set aside.
  3. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and toss together with the halved greengages and corn flour (corn flour helps soak up any excess juices the greengages might release). Preheat the oven to 180c and place a large baking tray on the oven shelf (this ensures that the base of the galette cooks through and is crisp- no soggy bottoms here!).
  4. Once your pastry has firmed up a little, roll into a large 3mm thick circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a piece of baking paper. Dollop the frangipane into the centre of the pastry, then spread out evenly, leaving a border of roughly 3 inches. Arrange the greengages on top of the frangipane, followed by the blackberries. Fold the edges of the pastry loosely over the filling, then brush with the remaining egg. Finish by sprinkling the demerara sugar all over the pastry and filling.
  5. Transfer the galette onto the hot baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp, and the frangipane is cooked through.
  6. To serve, sprinkle the galette with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Serve warm with ice cream or slightly sweetened mascarpone (it is also delicious cold!).

 

Sea Salt and Cherry Cookies with Amaretto

Biscuits

Although we’ve left lurid red glace cherries in the 1970s, it’s still unusual for cookie recipes to call for the fresh variety. With this in mind I had a little experiment with part-roasting fresh cherries in Amaretto before incorporating them into a chocolate-heavy salted cookie dough base (mostly to see if something went horribly wrong because I can’t think why else you wouldn’t opt for the real thing!); the result was delicious and I think the soft pockets of almond-infused cherry are far superior to the chewy dried sort, especially when paired with chunks of chocolate.

Ingredients

  • 175g fresh cherries, halved and stones removed
  • 3-4tbsp Amaretto
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • generous pinch sea salt salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 150g plain flour
  • 125g rye flour
  • 150g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 50g flaked almonds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Place the cherry halves in a lined baking tray, then drizzle over the Amaretto. Toss to coat, then roast for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl (bicarbonate of soda, both flours and salt) then tip into the wet and stir until no streaks of flour remain.
  3. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until well distributed through the dough. Roughly chop the roast cherries, then tip those in too with any remaining cooking juices. Stir in briefly, trying not to break them up, then cover the dough with cling film and chill for 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Form balls of dough using an ice cream scooper and arrange on the tray, leaving lots of room for spreading.
  5. Sprinkle each cookie dough ball with flaked almonds, then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden but still soft and chewy in the middle (bake in batches until the dough is used up. Alternatively freeze half the dough and save it for another time).
  6. Once baked, leave to cookies to firm up on a wire rack, then sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Honeyed Rose Cream and Figs

Cakes, Uncategorized

At last we approach fig season- one of my absolute favourite fruits, and so synonymous with Middle Eastern cuisine that it would be wrong to incorporate them into a bake which didn’t boast nuts, heady spices or sweet floral flavours; of course this cake contains all three, making it one of my favourite recipes I’ve posted on here to date. It’s not too sweet, nor is the icing too heavy, just a well balanced, flavoursome bake with flavours which work beautifully together. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • 100g chopped dried figs
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • 2-3tbsp rose water
  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g grated carrot
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • large pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 100g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the icing

  • 300ml double cream
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 3tbsp honey
  • 2-3tbsp rose water

Optional

  • 50g chopped pistachios
  • 1tbsp dried rose petals
  • 4-5 figs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins.
  2. Roughly chop the figs and discard the stalks. Tip into a bowl and add the orange juice and rose water. Leave to soak until required.
  3. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream together the butter and both sugars until pale and thick. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a small amount of the flour with each egg to prevent curdling).
  4. Stir through the grated carrot and soaked figs (along with any juice the figs haven’t absorbed). Mix together the dry ingredients and pistachios and fold through the batter until no streaks of flour remain.
  5. Split the batter between the prepared tins and level off. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Let the cakes sit in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, place the cream, cream cheese, honey and rose water in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pipe-able. Adjust the levels of sweetness and rose flavour to taste.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled down, slice them in half horizontally, leaving you with 4  equal layers. Pile the rose and honey cream into a piping bag with round nozzle. Place the first layer onto a serving plate and pipe little mounds all over the surface, then top with the next layer. Repeat until all the cream mixture is used up, then sprinkle rose petals and pistachios over the top and arrange the figs in an attractive way, if using.

Tahini and Halva Ice Cream

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I know declaring a love of tahini and halva makes me sound a) melodramatic b) painfully millennial and c) like a bit of a dick, but I really have come to crave it, especially in and on desserts and baked goods; the savoury nuttiness and slight bitter note contrasts perfectly with sweet bases and makes for a dangerously moreish result. That definitely applies to this ice cream, which is next level thanks to the texture contrast of crumbled halva through a smooth custard base. Give it a try, it might just be the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever made (although as we have established, I come from a place of bias on this front).

Ingredients

  • 250ml double cream
  • 725ml full fat milk
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 200g tahini
  • 150g crumbled halva
  • 1tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Pour the cream and milk into a large saucepan. Bring to scalding point then take off the heat. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and yolks until pale and well combined. Whisk the hot cream mix into the yolks, followed by the tahini and salt. Once smooth, tip the custard base into a clean saucepan.
  2. Set the saucepan over a low/medium heat and stir continuously until it thickens to form a custard which coats the back of a spoon. Pass through a sieve and chill.
  3. When the custard is cool, pour into an ice cream maker and churn until thick and creamy. Stir the crumbled halva through this mix, reserving a little for the top of the ice cream.
  4. Scrape the churned ice cream into a 1 litre container and smooth off. Scatter over the remaining halva and sesame seeds, if using. Freeze for at least 4 hours then serve.

Strawberry and Elderflower Sorbet

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London has reached a Monica’s-massive-hair level of humid, so sorbet seems like the only sensible thing to make. Strawberries are a must this month (I know they’re linked with Wimbledon- that’s where my knowledge of tennis starts and ends), so I’ve used them to create a fresh puree which forms the base of this sorbet, along with elderflower cordial.

Ingredients

  • 800g fresh strawberries, stalks removed
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50ml elderflower cordial
  • 20ml water

Method

  1. Blitz the strawberries with a hand blender or in a food processor, then pass through a sieve. Discard the seeds. Weigh out 650ml of puree.
  2. Place the caster sugar, cordial and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Pop the syrup and the puree in the fridge until both are chilled, then stir together.
  3. Taste and add stir in a little more elderflower cordial, if necessary. Tip into an ice cream churner and churn until smooth and thick.
  4. Decant the sorbet into an airtight container and leave to freeze for at least 3 hours. Take the sorbet out of the freezer around 10 minutes before you’d like to serve it.

Burnt Butter Caramel and Raspberry Brownies

Chocolate, Uncategorized

Another iteration of my all-time favourite bake, this time with fresh raspberries offset by oozing pockets of burnt butter caramel (inspired by Chin Chin Lab’s burnt butter caramel nitro ice cream). Brownies might not seem like the obvious thing to make mid-summer, but as these are studded with some token summer berries and can therefore be deemed seasonal, you should probably make them.

Ingredients

For the caramel

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 60ml double cream
  • Pinch salt

For the brownie

  • 250g butter
  • 150g 80% dark chocolate
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate
  • 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
  • 100g light brown soft sugar, 75g caster sugar
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 100g rye flour
  • 100g good quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 250g fresh raspberries

Method

  1. Start off by making the caramel. To do this place the sugar in a saucepan and heat gently. Meanwhile, place the butter in a small pan and melt until just past browned (it should be foaming and have little brown specks in the bottom), then take off the heat.
  2. At this point the sugar will have started to dissolve. Swirl the pan until the sugar melts entirely, then allow it to reach a deep golden brown colour. Now add in the burnt butter and cream, stirring until it comes together. Remove from the heat and add the salt. Pour the caramel into a baking paper-lined container and leave to firm up for around half an hour. Preheat the oven to 180c and line a brownie tin with baking paper.
  3. While the caramel is setting, make the brownie batter. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and tip into a heatproof bowl. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat gently until melted. Up the heat and brown until foaming (as before), then pour directly over the chocolate. Let it sit for a moment, then stir to create a smooth glossy mixture.
  4. Meanwhile, place the eggs and egg yolk, both sugars and salt in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until pale and voluminous.
  5. Pour the chocolate down the side of the bowl and fold in, then add the flour and fold again.
  6. Chop the set caramel into rough pieces and set aside. Scape half the brownie batter into the lined tin and level out. Evenly distribute half the caramel pieces, chocolate chunks and raspberries then scrape over the remaining chocolate. Repeat the process with the caramel, chocolate and raspberries then bake for 25-35 minutes or until crisp and flaky on top but still fudgy (with a slight wobble) in the middle.
  7. Leave to cool completely in the tin then slice up an serve.

Classic Chocolate Fudge Cake (Gluten Free)

Cakes, Uncategorized

I can never understand why gluten free options are, not always but so often, dry, dense and disappointing. I’m not a coeliac myself and am not a fan of demonising gluten, however, if you are genuinely unable to enjoy it then I’m a firm believer that there should and can be delicious alternatives! This cake is the first of many gluten free versions of classic baking staples I’m planning, and seriously, it’s so moreish it brings a tear to my eye (deeply melodramatic but you get the message).

Ingredients

For the cakes (makes one 7-8 inch sandwich cake)

  • 200g ground almonds
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • generous pinch salt
  • 175ml boiling water
  • 2tsp instant coffee
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 225ml vegetable oil

For the ganache 

  • 300ml double cream
  • 200g 70% dark chocolate
  • 100g mik chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7-8 inch cake tins.
  2. Stir the almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a small bowl. Mix the cocoa, coffee and boiling water together in a jug until smooth and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs, oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl (or in a stand mixer with paddle attachment) until pale and thick.
  4. Add the cocoa mix and continue whisking until you have a fairly liquid cake batter with no streaks. Add the almond mixture down the side of the bowl and fold in gently.
  5. Split the batter between the two tins and bake for 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the ganache. Finely chop the chocolate and pop it in a heatproof bowl. Meanwhile, pour the cream into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. When it reaches scalding point (just before a simmer), take off the heat and pour directly over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then stir to create a smooth, glossy ganache. Allow this to cool and thicken to a spreadable consistency (15 minutes in the fridge once cooled to room temperature helps achieve this).
  7. Once the cakes are baked leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  8. To assemble your cake, level off your cakes if necessary, then fill and cover with ganache.

Enjoy!

Espresso, Pecan & Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Biscuits, Uncategorized

These cookie sandwiches are a culmination of my three favourite things; coffee, chocolate and ice cream. The pecans add crunch, and the bitter note of espresso prevents the result from being overly sweet. There’s not a lot else to say- other than go forth and make them (but proceed with caution, they’re like crack).

Ingredients (makes 10-12 cookie sandwiches, with a little extra cookie dough which will freeze well)

For the ice cream

  • 400ml double cream
  • 400ml whole milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 150g caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 30g good quality instant coffee

For the cookies

  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • generous pinch salt
  • 150g plain flour
  • 125g rye flour
  • 75g roughly chopped pecans
  • 100g roughly chopped dark chocolate (70%)

Method

  1. Start off by making the ice cream. To do this, pour the double cream, milk and instant coffee into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pale and thick. Once the instant coffee has dissolved into the cream mixture, bring it to a simmer then take off the heat and gradually add into the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly until well combined.
  2. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean saucepan, then heat gently, stirring until thick (make sure the custard doesn’t get too hot, or you’ll be left with something that looks a bit like scrambled eggs!). Pass the thickened custard through a sieve into a bowl, then close cover with cling film and leave to cool completely (I like to chill the custard at this point to make sure it’s as cold as possible before churning, but it’s not absolutely necessary).
  3. Once cooled, pour the custard into an ice cream maker and churn until creamy and thick. Line a shallow square/rectangular baking tin (about 2-3cm deep) with cling film and scrape the churned ice cream into it. Level off, cover with cling film and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours, until fully set. At this point you can cut the ice cream into rounds using a 3-4 inch cookie cutter, then cover and return the rounds to the freezer until required.
  4. For the cookies, place the butter and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the bicarbonate of soda, salt and both flours and very briefly mix again until combined. Now stir in the pecans and chocolate with a wooden spoon. Chill the cookie dough for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper and space tablespoons of cookie dough over them, allowing plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until soft in the middle but golden in colour. At about 8-10 minutes into baking, take the baking tray and bang it on the work top in one sharp movement. This allows the cookie to spread a little and ensures the perfect thickness. Repeat the process until you’ve used up the cookie dough, then leave the cookies to cool.
  6. For a neat result, you can cut the cookies into perfect circles with the cutter you used for the ice cream, but this isn’t essential.
  7. Once the cookies have cooled, sandwich two together with a round of espresso ice cream.

Enjoy!