This isn’t a sophisticated cake. There is nothing particularly fancy or groundbreaking about the flavours or decoration; however, sometimes (and by sometimes I mean far more often than is deemed acceptable) I just crave a proper, dense, delicious chocolate hit, and for that this delivers every time (whether smothered in salted caramel buttercream or chocolate ganache- I’ll take either).
300g caster sugar
300g soft butter
225ml soured cream
2tsp vanilla extract
75g cocoa powder
300g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the buttercream:
100g soft butter
100g salted caramel sauce
large pinch salt
500g icing sugar
For the brittle:
200g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 10 inch cake tin.
Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and cream together until light, pale and fluffy. In a jug whisk the eggs, soured cream and vanilla. Add to the creamed mixture in 3 additions, beating well between each to ensure they are fully incorporated (add a little of the flour if you’re worried about curdling).
Sift the cocoa powder, plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt over the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Once baked leave to cool in the tin.
Now make your brittle. Line a tray with lightly oiled baking paper. Place the sugar and almonds in a heavy bottomed pan and heat until the sugar melts. Tip the pan to coat the almonds in the caramel and leave it until it reaches a deep golden brown then pour onto the prepared baking paper. Use a wooden spoon to move the almonds around into a single layer, then leave to set hard.
For the salted caramel buttercream (this is a bit of a guilty pleasure- it’s obviously very sweet so you could coat the cake in a dark chocolate ganache if you’re more grown up than me), simply beat the soft butter, caramel sauce and salt (I will be posting a recipe for salted caramel sauce soon if you’d like to make your own, otherwise just buy shop bought!) together until creamy, then gradually add the icing sugar until it reaches a light and thick consistency. Lastly, loosen up with a few drops of milk if necessary (do this by eye).
To assemble, remove your cake from the tin and smother in buttercream. Break up the brittle and use as shards, or smash into a crumb and sprinkle over the top of your finished bake.
These sweet bread swirls are stuffed with cinnamon spice butter and assorted nuts, brushed with a sticky toffee glaze and drizzled with white icing; unsurprisingly, this makes them dangerously moreish and a great accompaniment to a Sunday evening Netflix binge (yep, dual binging going on here)…
Ingredients (makes 7 rolls to fit a 9 inch cake tin):
For the dough:
550g strong bread flour, plus extra for kneading
3tsp fast action dried yeast
40g caster sugar
For the filling:
200g soft butter
80g light brown soft sugar
1tsp mixed spice
50g hazelnuts, chopped
50g walnuts, chopped
50g pistachios, chopped
For the topping:
1 egg, whisked (to glaze)
50g golden syrup
50g dark brown soft sugar
3tbsp double cream
4tbsp icing sugar mixed with a few drops water
Place the butter and milk in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts. Set aside to cool, then add the eggs and whisk to combine.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast and sugar. Add in the wet ingredients in one go and rapidly mix together with a cutlery knife or your hands. Once you’ve bought it together to form a dough knead either by hand or using a dough hook (10 minutes by hand/ 5 minutes with a dough hook).
Put the kneaded dough (it should be smooth and elastic) in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Place in a warm (not hot) place and leave to double in size for 1 hour.
While the dough is rising prepare the filling; to do this simply beat together the butter, sugar and spices to create a soft spreadable consistency. Lightly toast the nuts and roughly chop. Prepare a large cake tin by generously greasing with butter.
Once your dough has doubled in size roll it out to a large rectangle about 1cm thick (the rolling is enough knocking back). Making sure the longest side is facing you, spread the cinnamon butter evenly over the dough then scatter on the nuts.
Roll up the rectangle away from you until you have a large sausage shape. Slice this sausage into around seven 2 inch (roughly) wide pieces- each piece should have a spiral cross section.
Place the pieces (spiral up) in the bottom of the cake tin; I fit 6 around the edge and one in the centre. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove for a final hour.
Preheat the oven to 180c. Whisk the egg and brush all over the top of the proved buns. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bread cooked through.
For the toffee glaze melt together the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan, then stir in the cream and add the salt. Brush this over the cooked swirls then finish with the simple white icing and any leftover chopped nuts.
This bake is just my go to chocolate cake (My Favourite Chocolate Cake) but I thought I’d share the photos as I went a bit rogue with the decoration. I wanted to do something a bit different from my go to chocolate shards/praline/freeze dried fruit, so rooted around my baking stuff and uncovered some long forgotten metallic spray and edible gold gel. I covered the base cake in a layer of glossy dark chocolate ganache (made by pouring 100ml hot cream over 150g chopped dark chocolate, stirring together then cooling), allowed it to set a little then flicked and sprayed it gold; I really like the minimal result and think it could be a great effect for a tiered celebration cake.
Intense, rich, drag-me-out-of-bed coffee; yep, it’s the lonely hero of many a dark January morning, and for me, my second favourite cake flavour (after chocolate…duh). If you too trust in the caffeine hit, are partial to a slab of cake and have fallen off the health wagon you should definitely try out this recipe- the loaf format looks a bit different and the hazelnuts pair really well with the strong coffee flavour which is delivered in the sponge, frosting and espresso drizzle.
For the sponge:
225g soft butter
225g golden caster sugar
225g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
3tbsp strong instant coffee
For the espresso soak:
3-4 tbsp strong instant coffee
1tbsp caster sugar
For the filling/decoration:
600g icing sugar
200g soft butter
2tbsp strong instant coffee
handful chopped toasted hazelnuts
Optional: espresso powder and coffee beans
Preheat the oven to 160c and grease/line a large loaf tin.
Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk (or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment) until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs in one at a time, whisking well in between each addition to ensure they are well incorporated (you can add a little of the flour if you’re worried about curdling).
Once the eggs have been added sift in the flour, salt and baking powder. Fold into the mix then add the instant coffee and stir. Scrape the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until golden brown and cooked all the way through- a skewer should come out clean with a few crumbs attached when inserted).
Allow the cake to cool in the tin while you make the frosting and soak.
For the frosting, place the butter, mascarpone and instant coffee in a bowl (or again, use a stand mixer) and whisk until light, well combined and fluffy. Now gradually add the icing sugar whilst mixing on a slow speed. Once all the icing sugar has been added increase the speed and keep whisking until you have a spreadable, light and smooth icing. Set aside.
For the soak simply mix together the coffee and sugar. Take your cooling loaf cake and slice in half horizontally. Prick holes in the surface of each piece and drizzle the soak all over, allow it to sink in. Set aside until completely cool.
Once the cake is completely cool spread a generous amount of mascarpone icing across the bottom layer along with a sprinkling of hazelnuts. Sandwich on the top sponge and cover the outside edges in the remaining icing. If you like, you can use a flat piping nozzle to create a ripple look, then top with more hazelnuts and some espresso powder.
These gingerbread biscuits are super easy to make and are really fun to shape and decorate with children. Pierce holes in the tops and thread through festive ribbons for great homemade tree decorations (or just eat them straight away, they’re delicious!).
Ingredients (makes about 20 large biscuits depending on the shapes you choose- you can always half it if you only want a few or double it if it’s for a big gingerbread house!):
150g soft light brown sugar
60g golden syrup
30g black treacle
pinch mixed spice
190g butter, cubed
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
450g plain flour
Optional: white icing for decorating, silver balls, edible glitter, ribbon
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Place the sugar, syrup, black treacle, water and spices in a saucepan. Melt together over a medium heat and stir to combine. Take off the heat and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt then stir again. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl. Stir into the liquid until you have a manageable dough. Add a little more flour if it feels too soft. Cover and set aside for half an hour to firm up.
Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Take your dough and roll out to about 3mm on a well floured surface. Cut out shapes with your desired cutters or templates and transfer to the prepped trays. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Once cooked, cool the biscuits on a wire rack and decorate as you wish.
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
2 1/2tsp baking powder
2 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
185ml vegetable oil
3tsp espresso coffee
375ml boiling water
For the frosting:
600g icing sugar
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.