Carrot Cake with Pecan Brittle

Cakes, Uncategorized

This cake is a straight forward throw-it-all-in, mix, bake and frost situation (but tastes uh-mazing). The pecan brittle is optional but I think the nutty crunch and slightly bitter caramel really adds to the spiced sponge and tangy cream cheese frosting- definitely a winner!

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Ingredients:

  • 225ml vegetable oil
  • 225g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g grated carrot
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • 75g chopped pecans
  • For the brittle: 100g caster sugar, 100g pecans, pinch salt
  • For the frosting: 80g butter, 250g full fat cream cheese, 400g icing sugar, zest 1 lemon

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a square brownie tray (about 22x22cm).
  2. Place the oil, sugar, eggs and grated carrot in a large mixing bowl and briefly whisk to combine. Now sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and mixed spice and beat together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Fold in the pecans.
  3. Tip this mixture into the square tin and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  4. While the cake is cooking, make the brittle. To do this simply place the pecans and sugar in a  heavy bottom pan and gently heat until the sugar melts (don’t stir but swirl the pan occasionally). Once the sugar has melted allow it to reach deep golden brown then pour onto a piece of greaseproof paper and allow to set hard and cool.
  5. Once your cake is cooked and cooling on a rack (in the tin), make the frosting. Beat the butter until smooth then add the cream cheese and whisk until combined. Gradually pour in the icing sugar and continue to whisk for a few minutes- you should achieve light smooth consistency. Stir in the lemon zest last.
  6. Turn the cake out of the tin once it’s cooled and level off if necessary. Spread a generous layer of the cream cheese frosting all over then break up the brittle and sprinkle on.
  7. Slice up and serve (and try to resist coming back for a second piece).

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Coffee Hazelnut Cake with Mascarpone Icing

Cakes, Uncategorized

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.

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

  • 225g soft butter
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 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 mascarpone
  • 200g soft butter
  • 2tbsp strong instant coffee
  • handful chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • Optional: espresso powder and coffee beans

Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 160c and grease/line a large loaf tin.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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).
  5. Allow the cake to cool in the tin while you make the frosting and soak.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Enjoy!

My Favourite Chocolate Cake

Cakes, Uncategorized

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

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Cakes

This cake is the ultimate Autumn centre piece- it combines a moist spiced pumpkin sponge with cream cheese frosting, caramel buttercream, pecans and salted toffee sauce; the best flavours of the season! I decorated mine in a really rustic semi-naked style, but you can refine yours to make it a little more formal if you like.

Ingredients

  • 450ml vegetable oil
  • 450g soft light brown sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 450g self raising flour
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3tsp ginger
  • 3tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 grated fresh nutmeg
  • 250g sultanas
  • 400g grated pumpkin

For the Toffee Sauce: 100g butter, 100g dark brown soft sugar, 100g golden syrup, 100ml double cream, large pinch sea salt

For the Caramel Buttercream: 200g butter, 75g of the toffee sauce, 500g icing sugar

For the Cream Cheese Frosting: 250g cream cheese, 150g butter, 500g icing sugar, 1tsp vanilla extract

Extras: 200g roughly chopped pecans

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c and grease and line three 7inch cake tins.
  2. Place the eggs, sugar, salt and oil in a large bowl then whisk until light and well combined. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg then gently stir with a spatula until non-streaky and smooth.
  3. Now add the sultanas and pumpkin. Mix well and distribute the batter evenly between the three tins. Bake for 30-45 minutes. When a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cakes, they are done. Once cooked, remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

  1. While the cakes are cooling, make the frostings. Start off with the toffee sauce. Place the dark brown sugar, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan and melt together. Once melted, bring to the boil then remove from the heat and add the cream. Stir then set aside to cool.
  2. Now make your cream cheese frosting. Whisk the butter with electric beaters or a stand mixer until fluffy, then add the cream cheese and whisk again. Once well combined, gradually add the icing sugar and continue whisking until you have a light frosting. Fold in the vanilla.
  3. Once your toffee sauce has cooled you can make the caramel buttercream. Simply beat the butter until really light, then add the icing sugar gradually until you have a simple fluffy buttercream. Finally, add 75g of the toffee sauce and stir through.
  4. To assemble the cakes just place one sponge on a plate and pipe a ring of cream cheese frosting round the edge. Fill the centre with caramel buttercream and sprinkle over some pecans. Now just top with another layer and repeat until all the cakes are used. Thinly coat the outside of the cake with cream cheese frosting and pipe a design on the top with the caramel buttercream. Pile on pecans for decoration and drizzle generously with the remaining toffee sauce.
  5. Enjoy!

Easter Layer Cake

Cakes

This carrot cake with a hint of zesty freshness is ideal for Easter events; it’s a real crowd pleaser and people always ask for the recipe, so here it is!

CARROT CAKE

For the sponge you will need: 400g grated carrot, 3tbsp finely chopped stem ginger, zest 1 lemon, zest 1 orange, 4 eggs, 2tsp vanilla, pinch salt, 400ml vegetable oil, 150g light brown soft sugar, 100ml buttermilk, 300g caster sugar, 550g plain flour, 3tsp baking powder, 2tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2tsp cinnamon, 2tsp ginger

Preheat the oven to 180c (fan) and line three 18cm cake tins with baking paper.
Whisk the carrot, ginger, zests, eggs, vanilla, salt, vegetable oil, light brown sugar and buttermilk in a large jug, until smooth.
Sift the caster sugar, plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour the wet egg mixture in.
Gently stir until the dry and the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined. Be sure to scrape any run away ingredients down the sides of the bowl and fully incorporate them into the mixture too.
Divide the cake mix evenly into the prepared tins. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Do not open the oven until at least 30 minutes have passed.
Leave to sit in their tins for 10 minutes once baked then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the cream cheese frosting, you will need: 700g icing sugar, 250g cream cheese, 85g butter, a few drops milk

Mix the icing sugar together with the butter with a hand held electric whisk until a powdery breadcrumb-like consistency is achieved.
Now gradually add the cream cheese and mix like mad until it is thick but spreadable. If you like, add the zest of one lemon for a fresh twist.
Add a little milk to alter the consistency if it’s too stiff.
Spread some cream cheese frosting on the first sponge then pop the second on top. Repeat this process and you will be left with a three layer cake sandwiched with frosting. For a professional finish, cover the entire cake with the remaining cream cheese mixture. Use a wet palette knife to smooth the icing down. Now your cake is ready for the decoration.

CARROT CAKE 2

For the additional decoration, you will need: 200g caster sugar, 100g chopped walnuts, few hazelnuts

To achieve the neat line of chopped walnuts, wrap some baking parchment neatly around your cake, leaving 2 inches spare at the bottom. With the palm of your hand, press the walnuts into the cream cheese frosting around the circumference of the base. Remove the baking paper and use a palette knife to create vertical lines all around the remaining cream cheese covered area.

For the spirals, place the caster sugar in a deep bottom pan over a medium heat. Do NOT be tempted to stir it, just wait for it to melt and turn a golden amber colour. Don’t leave it for any longer than this or it will quickly burn. Remove from the heat and leave for a few minutes until the consistency is sticky and slightly thick. Once this consistency is achieved, lightly oil a wooden spoon handle and, with a fork, gather up some of the caramel to mould around it- this should form a spiral shape. Leave for a few moments to harden then remove from the spoon carefully and place around the edges of the cake (as in the above photograph).
If the caramel hardens too much just return to the heat briefly to soften again.
Dip the hazelnuts in any left over caramel and pile in the centre of the cake.
If you don’t feel like attempting the sugar work, just scatter nuts over the top or buy some carrot shaped cake toppers!

Enjoy!

My Halloween Showstopper

Cakes

This toffee apple cake, sandwiched together with salted caramel and toffee frosting, makes for the perfect table centre piece, especially when topped with honeycomb, haphazard spun sugar and mini toffee apple decorations… Give it a go this Halloween and you’re guaranteed to be popular with friends and family, old and young!

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For the sponge, you will need: 450g plain flour, pinch salt, 3tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1tsp baking powder, 3tsp cinnamon, 1tsp ginger, 250g caster sugar, 200g light brown soft sugar, 300g melted butter, 5 eggs, 3 apples

Grease and line two 20cm cake tins. Preheat the oven to 180c (fan).

Sift together the flour, salt, bicarbonate, baking powder, spices and caster sugar. Mix to combine. In a jug, mix the eggs, melted butter and brown sugar. Chop your apples finely into chunks.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour in the wet eggy liquid. Stir with a wooden spoon to fully combine and incorporate. Fold through the apple.

Separate the mix between the two tins and level the tops. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.

When cooked, leave for 5 minutes to cool in tins then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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For the toffee frosting, you will need: 200g dark brown soft sugar, 100g butter, 100ml milk, 600 icing sugar, and more milk for loosening

Place the sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan and melt. Stir gently and set aside.

When cooled slightly, add the melted mixture to the icing sugar and stir until combined. If too thick, add drops of milk until a spreadable frosting consistency is achieved.

For the salted caramel recipe I use, click here. 

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To assemble the cake:

Trim the tops of the cakes if they’re not even, then spread 1tbsp salted caramel over the tops. Spread a generous swirl of the toffee frosting over the bottom layer and sandwich the other sponge over it. Coat the entire cake in toffee frosting, using a palette knife to achieve a smooth finish. Drizzle some salted caramel over the top.

For the crushed honeycomb recipe (optional) visit my last post and cancel out the chocolate!

Sprinkle the honeycomb in a circle around the top of the cake.

For the ‘toffee apples’, you will need: some roll out red icing, some kebab sticks and some caster sugar (amounts will depend on how many apples you would like!)

Roll the icing into small balls (slightly smaller than golf ball sized) and stick onto the end of a kebab stick. Place in the freezer to harden.

Place some caster sugar in a saucepan and melt over a medium heat. Once dissolved, let the sugar brown then remove from the hob. Take the icing balls from the freezer and dip in the sugar then leave to set. Arrange in a haphazard fashion around the top of the cake.

Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Cakes

Take this recipe, run to your kitchen and get baking ASAP- the ultimate indulgence awaits! I have spent some time perfecting this peanut butter frosting formula to result in the smoothest, creamiest covering to compliment the soft chocolatey sponge, so let me know what you think if you give it a go!

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For the chocolate sponge layers, you will need: 200g dark chocolate, 300g butter (softened and cubed), 300g light brown sugar, 300g caster sugar, 180g plain flour, 180g self raising flour, 2tsp baking powder, 80g cocoa powder, 5 eggs, 150ml water, 6tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180c (fan) and grease and line three 18cm tins.

Place your chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat until melted. Set aside to cool.

Cream together the butter and sugars then add the flours, baking powder, cocoa powder and eggs then whisk until smooth. Add the water and milk then stir slowly together. Add the melted chocolate and mix.

Once the cake batter is smooth, divide between the tins and even out. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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For the decorations you will need 100g dark chocolate

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water then remove from heat and cool slightly. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe patterns onto greaseproof paper. Set in the fridge while you make the peanut butter frosting.

For the peanut butter frosting, you will need: 4 heaped tbsp peanut butter, 200ml double cream, splash milk, 600g icing sugar

Place these ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. You may need to add some milk to create a spreadable and easy-to-use consistency. Use your judgement on this.

Sandwich frosting between the three sponges and coat the outside. Use a palette knife to achieve a neat finish. Take your chocolate decorations from the fridge and use as required.

Enjoy your showstopper!

My Chocolate Show Stopper

Cakes

This chocolate cake might look a little intimidating on first inspection, but it is actually made using several very simple techniques. With my instructions you can’t go far wrong with the methods and once you’ve made it once you’ll have a go-to show stopper for Birthday gatherings and dessert spread centre pieces.

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So, the first component is the fudgy chocolate sponge mix. For this you’ll need:

300 plain flour, 400g caster sugar, 2tsp baking powder, 2tsp bicarbonate of soda, pinch salt, 80g cocoa powder, 3 eggs, 250ml milk, 140ml vegetable oil, 3tsp vanilla extract, 100g dark chocolate (melted), 200ml boiling water

Preheat the oven to 170c (fan) then grease and line two 18cm loose bottom cake tins.

In a large bowl, mix together the plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder with a wooden spoon.

Put your chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a simmering pan. Meanwhile in a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and leave to cool slightly. In three additions, add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing well as you go. Once smooth, pour in the melted chocolate and combine. Last of all, slowly pour the boiling water into the bowl and gently stir until smooth (the mix will be very liquid, but this makes the cake deliciously moist and fudgy).

Split the cake mix between your two tins and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Once cooked leave to cool on a rack.

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While your sponges are baking, start on your striped jaconde sponge (this is made up of a decorative chocolate paste and a simple, light brown sponge mix).

For the decorative paste, combine: 60g butter, 60g icing sugar, 2 egg whites, 40g plain flour, 40g cocoa powder

Simply combine these ingredients in a small bowl. Now, here is the tricky bit.

Line a 10x12inch shallow baking tray with baking paper (ensure the baking paper is big enough to line the walls of the tray too). Cut a separate piece of baking paper to the exact size of the bottom of the tray (10×12) and place on top of the larger piece.

Take the 10x12inch rectangle of baking paper and spread your decorative paste all over it in a thin 2-3mm layer, all the way to the edges.

Now, with a chop stick (or similar tool with squared off end) draw diagonal stripes through the paste so you are left with lots of chocolate lines separated by the lines of baking parchment (this creates the stripey effect on the outer edge of the cake).

Put the rectangle with the stripes on back into the lined baking tray and place in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes while you make your jaconde sponge mix.

And for the jaconde sponge you’ll need: 2 egg whites, 5tbsp caster sugar, 40g ground almonds, 60g icing sugar, 2 whole eggs, 20g plain flour, 20g butter (melted)

Up the oven temperature to 220c (fan). Now, in a clean bowl whisk your whites until stiff peaks are formed. Slowly add your caster sugar, still whisking, until a glossy meringue mix is achieved. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk your almonds, icing sugar and whole eggs until pale and fluffy. Fold in the flour, then the meringue mix. Finally, pour the melted butter in slowly and very carefully combine. The mix should be light and airy.

Retrieve your baking tray from the fridge. Pour the jaconde sponge mix evenly over the stripes of paste, using a spatula to make sure the gap between each chocolate line is filled. Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until pale brown.

Once baked,turn the tray upside down onto a work surface and peel away the baking paper. You should be left with a thin rectangle of jaconde sponge with a pin stripe pattern across it. Leave to cool slightly.

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Finally, for the easy chocolate frosting, you’ll need: 150g softened butter, 400g icing sugar, 200ml double cream, 150g dark chocolate (melted), 4tbsp cocoa powder

Combine the butter and icing sugar, loosening with the double cream as you go along. Add the melted dark chocolate and the cocoa powder then whisk vigorously until smooth and workable.

Now, for the assemblage…

Cut your two chocolate sponges in half and layer on top of each other with a generous spreading of chocolate frosting between ( I only used three layers as I didn’t want to create a huge cake as it’s not for a special occasion!).

Cover the outside of the four layer (or three if you like) cake with frosting and smooth to the desired effect.

Now, cut your jaconde sponge into two long rectangles. Measure your cake to gage the exact dimensions you will need to cover the outside of it. I needed two 4.5x12inch shapes. Don’t worry if you cut your jaconde a little too large, you can always trim it.

Wrap the sponge rectangles around your frosted cake and press onto the sides to secure. Trim if necessary. Now, for a final flourish, pipe little stars of the remaining fudge icing all over the top and scatter with glitter.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

50th Birthday Cake

Cakes

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When I embarked on making this cake I was skeptical about whether or not my ambitious idea of two different cakes baked with varied frostings, flavourings and colours adorned with hand made chocolate roses would materialise… I had images of wilting roses, mutant shapes and dry sponges on my (forever anxious) mind during baking, so I am relieved with the actual result.

The ‘5’ shaped cake is a rich chocolate sponge filled with milk chocolate ganache and iced with dark chocolate ganache. The ‘0’ is made up of a nutty carrot cake which is filled and covered with cream cheese frosting. Both cakes are decorated with hand made roses- on the ‘5’ with white chocolate roses and on the ‘0’ with milk chocolate. Having never used molding chocolate before I would certainly recommend it- I prefer it to sugar paste as I find the results a bit more modern and less ‘old-fashioned-wedding-cake’.

Now comes the challenge of transportation… my least favourite part of baking for parties! A heart-in-mouth journey awaits…