You can’t go wrong with banana and peanut butter, and as there are lots of families at home at the moment, I thought I’d post a recipe which delivers on that flavour combination but is super simple to make and portion. I’ve added brown butter to the batter but you could just melt it normally, and feel free to substitute the spelt flour with plain (although spelt is actually all I could find in my local supermarket and works well in this recipe).
Ingredients (makes 10-12 good sized cake bars in a 7×10 inch tin)
- 150g butter
- 2 eggs
- 4 medium sized bananas (or 3 large), very ripe and roughly mashed up
- 75g Greek yoghurt, full fat
- 130g light brown soft sugar
- 225g spelt flour
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 1/2tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 115g smooth peanut butter
- 115g softened butter
- 200g icing sugar
- pinch salt
- Handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- Extra cinnamon, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 7×10 inch high sided baking tin.
- Place the butter in a saucepan and gently melt, then turn up the heat and let it brown until it foams and smells nutty. Set aside to cool a little.
- In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, mashed banana, yoghurt and sugar. Once the butter is lukewarm stir that in too. Briefly whisk the spelt flour, baking powder, spices and salt together in a separate bowl then add to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined then pour the batter into the prepared tin.
- Bake the cake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
- While the cake is cooling, make the peanut buttercream. To do this place the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and mix with electric beaters (or the paddle attachment) until well combined and slightly whipped. Add the icing sugar and salt and briefly stir with a wooden spoon (to prevent a cloud of icing sugar), then return to beating on a high speed until you have a light and fluffy consistency.
- To assemble, take the cooled cake out of the tin and roughly ripple the buttercream all over the top. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and a little cinnamon. Slice up and serve.
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.
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)
- fresh blackberries, hazelnuts, apple crisps, rosemary sprigs
- Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins. Preheat the oven to 170c.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Coffee cake is one of my all time favourites, but this spin on a classic is perhaps even better (I know, big claim). The cardamom hum in the sponge goes really well with the simple coffee buttercream, and the crunch of earthy pistachio praline rounds off the overall flavour and prevents it from being overly sweet. Make these for any occasion (you can fool people into thinking they’re fancy with the help of a piping bag and edible flowers) and they are sure to go down a storm.
- 200g softened butter
- 200g soft brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 200g self raising flour
- pinch salt
- 8 cardamom pods, emptied and ground
- 3tbsp coffee granules mixed with 3tbsp boiling water
- 3tbsp milk
For the buttercream:
- 200g softened butter
- 400g icing sugar
- 2tbsp coffee granules mixed with 2tbsp boiling water
For the praline:
- 100g pistachios
- 100g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a brownie tin (around 20x20cm).
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the flour, salt and ground cardamom and fold in until well combined. Do the same with the coffee and milk.
- Once your straightforward batter is ready, spoon into the tin and level off. Bake for 30-35 minutes until well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool in the tin.
- While the cake is cooling, make the praline. Place the sugar and pistachios in a heavy bottom pan and allow the sugar to melt (don’t stir, just tip the pan to move the sugar around). Once it’s melted and golden, swirl the pan to coat the nuts in the caramel then tip onto some greaseproof paper and leave to set hard.
- Now make your buttercream. Beat the butter until light then gradually add the icing sugar, whisking until very light. Add in the coffee and whisk again to combine. Once it’s streak free and smooth, pile into a piping bag ready to decorate.
- Slice the cooled cake into nine squares (or larger/smaller pieces depending on your appetite!). Pipe the coffee buttercream on top in little kisses (or freestyle with rosettes/patterns using different nozzles). Break up the praline and roughly crush then sprinkle a generous helping on top of the buttercream.
This chocolate cake is my absolute favourite; it’s moist, rich and filled with both ganache and buttercream (completely necessary in my opinion!). Make it for a celebration or get together and you will be very popular!
Ingredients (for a 3 layer 9 inch wide cake- half the recipe for a 6 inch cake):
For the cake:
- 340g plain flour
- 525g caster sugar
- 125g cocoa
- 2 1/2tsp baking powder
- 2 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch salt
- 3 eggs
- 375ml milk
- 185ml vegetable oil
- 3tsp espresso coffee
- 375ml boiling water
For the frosting:
- 250g butter
- 600g icing sugar
- 100g cocoa
- few drops milk
For the ganache:
- 250g dark chocolate
- 200ml double cream
- pinch sea salt
For the toppers (optional):
- 100g dark chocolate
- 100g milk chocolate
- any sprinkles, nuts or metallic sprays/glitter you fancy
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
- For the cake, place the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl. Stir together with a whisk or wooden spoon.
- In a jug, mix together the eggs, vegetable oil, milk and espresso. Pour into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
- Now add the boiling water in batches, gently stirring between each addition (it’s supposed to be runny so don’t worry if the consistency seems a bit odd!).
- Split the mixture between the three cake tins and bake for 35-45 minutes until well risen and cooked through. To test whether they are ready, insert a skewer- if it comes out clean it is ready to come out of the oven.
- Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a wire rack. Leave to drop to room temperature while you make the fillings.
- Firstly, make the ganache. To do this simply chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a jug, then heat the cream until almost simmering and pour straight over it. Leave the chocolate to melt for a couple of minutes then stir to form your ganache. Set aside in the fridge to thicken and cool before you use it.
- Now make your buttercream. Whisk the butter until light and fluffy then gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa, whilst beating to combine. Add the vanilla and double cream and give it a final whisk- stop when you have a light, smooth frosting.
- If you’d like to make your own toppers, simply melt the chocolate (melt separately for some contrasting shards) then spread a thin layer onto greaseproof paper. Set in the fridge while you assemble the cake then break into pieces and use as you wish.
- Now you are ready to assemble the cake. Level off the tops of the sponges with a cake cutter or large bread knife to make sure you have even layers. Take your first sponge and spread over a layer of ganache followed by a layer of buttercream. Top with the next sponge and repeat until you have a stack of three. Cover the whole cake in buttercream and smooth the sides with a palette knife or cake scraper. Decorate with the shards or any other decorations you fancy.