Sticky Ginger Cake with Labneh Icing and Blood Orange Syrup

Cakes

As much as I love a stacked sponge showstopper, sandwiched with buttercream and impeccably preened, there’s something deeply comforting about a single layered wedge of cake, rustically finished with dollops of tangy icing and a bit of fruit. This cake undoubtedly falls into the comfort category, and it’s now one of my favourites; ginger cake itself feels nostalgic to me*, but the slightly tangy labneh icing and citrus syrup topping make this one feel a little more modern.

*I don’t know why, I have no emotive family story to share about a recipe passed down through a long line of bakers- my Granny used to feed me M&S sandwich cakes straight from the freezer. I’ll bank that as character building.

Ingredients

For the labneh icing

  • 500ml Greek yoghurt
  • 3tbsp icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

For the cake

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 175g golden syrup
  • 3tbsp ginger syrup (from a stem ginger jar)
  • 125g butter
  • 4 balls stem ginger, diced
  • 125g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml milk

For the blood orange compote

  • 90ml blood-orange juice
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2tbsp water
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 additional blood oranges

Method

  1. Line a sieve with a muslin cloth and sit over a large bowl. Scrape the yoghurt into the sieve and loosely tie the muslin around it. Leave this in the fridge overnight for the liquid in the yoghurt to drain (this will leave you with a thickened mixture- labneh).
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a high sided 9inch cake tin.
  3. Stir together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl. In a saucepan melt together the golden syrup, ginger syrup, butter, diced stem ginger and sugar. Bring to the boil for a minute then make a well in the dry ingredients and add the melted mixture. Stir together to eliminate any lumps then whisk the eggs and milk in a jug and add those in too and beat once more.
  4. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  5. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  6. Meanwhile, make the blood orange syrup. To do this simply place the juice, sugar and water in a small saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. At this stage split the vanilla pod and add in, then simmer for 3-4 minutes or until syrupy. Set aside to cool a little, then slice the 2 blood oranges into rounds, discarding the pith and skin. Add the slices into the syrup and stir. Leave to cool completely.
  7. Tip the strained yoghurt into a bowl and add the vanilla extract. Sift in the icing sugar and stir everything together until smooth.
  8. To assemble the cake, turn it out of the tin and roughly cover with the sweet labneh. Just before serving, arrange the blood orange slices on top and drizzle the syrup over.

Enjoy!

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Ginger and Lime Cake

Cakes

Zesty lime and fiery ginger make for a winning combination in this super simple cake (and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been yearning for a taste of something summery recently). For all out sunshine vibes decorate with edible yellow flowers (I’ve used violas), lime zest and crystallised ginger.

Ingredients:

  • 250g soft butter
  • 250g light brown soft sugar
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 5 eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 2tbsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 75g chopped stem ginger (in syrup)

For the lime drizzle: 75g caster sugar, juice 4 limes

For the lime cream cheese frosting: 50g soft butter, 150g cream cheese, 400g icing sugar, zest 3 limes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c (fan). Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then mix in the golden syrup. Add the eggs one at a time along with a tablespoon of the flour. Mix well and scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  3. Once the eggs have been incorporated, sift over the remaining flour, ginger, baking powder and salt; fold in the sifted ingredients followed by the stem ginger then transfer the batter into the prepared tin. Level out and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).
  4. While the cake is cooking, make the lime syrup. To do this simply place the juice and sugar in a saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil for a minute then remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. When the cake is ready, prick all across the surface with a skewer and pour over the lime syrup so it sinks deep into the cake. Leave to cool while you make the lime cream cheese frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth, then add the icing sugar slowly while continuously whisking. Whisk until light and smooth then add the lime zest and a drop of milk if the consistency is a little stiff.
  7. To assemble the cake, cover neatly with the frosting then decorate with extra lime zest, crystallised ginger, herbs and edible flowers.

Enjoy!

Sticky Gingerbread with Maple Pecan Topping

Cakes

I know, I said I would post something healthy and nutritious, but I’m not (yet). I made these sticky gingerbread bars with maple buttercream and pecan praline over Christmas and completely forgot to share the recipe (despite taking photos etc). I know they’re a little unseasonal now but it’s still winter so why not hang on to all that is spicy and indulgent?!

Ingredients:

For the gingerbread:

  • 250g butter
  • 250g soft dark brown sugar
  • 80g black treacle
  • 180g golden syrup
  • 325ml milk
  • 375g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • pinch mixed spice
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs

For the maple buttercream:

  • 100g soft butter
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 100g cold maple toffee sauce (shop bought OR made by melting together 75g butter, 50g golden syrup, 3tbsp maple syrup and 75g dark brown soft sugar, bringing to the boil then adding 50ml double cream and a pinch salt)
  • 2tbsp milk

For the pecan praline:

  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g roughly chopped pecans

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c (fan). Grease and line a square brownie tray (about 20x20cm).
  2. Melt together the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Stir occasionally then take off the heat and mix in the milk. Leave for 10 minutes to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Stir the eggs to break them up and incorporate some flour, then start gradually adding your buttery syrup liquid. Continue mixing (I do this with a wooden spoon) until all the liquid has been incorporated and you have a lump free batter.
  4. Pour into the prepared tray and bake for 45-55 minutes. When it is ready a skewer should come out with just a few moist crumbs attached when inserted.
  5. While the gingerbread is cooking, make the maple toffee sauce (if you’re not using shop bought); the method for this is in the ingredients list above.
  6. Once cooked turn the gingerbread onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. Now make your pecan praline. Simply place the pecans and sugar in a heavy bottom pan and heat gently until the sugar begins to melt. Tilt the pan occasionally to coat the nuts but don’t feel tempted to stir or the sugar will crystallise. Once the sugar reaches a deep golden colour remove from the heat and pour onto a piece of greaseproof paper to set. Once hard and cool break up the praline into small pieces (or a course dust if you prefer).
  8. Your final step is to make the buttercream. Put the soft butter in a bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until light. Gradually add the icing sugar and keep whisking until you have a pale and fluffy buttercream base (this will take 5-10 minutes).
  9. Once you’ve reached this stage add the milk and toffee sauce and whisk again until it is fully incorporated. The finished buttercream should be light brown in colour.
  10. To assemble the gingerbread bars simply slice the cake into 12 fingers and drizzle with any remaining toffee sauce you might have (optional) then pipe on the buttercream. Top with the pecan praline and serve.

 

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!

Carrot and Ginger Loaf Cake

Cakes

This loaf cake is really light and zingy; I developed the recipe as a bit of a change from all the heavy fruit cakes and chocolatey bakes we’ve been eating over Christmas (not that this is health food by any means!). Try it out- it’s really easy to make but still looks impressive!DSCN9200

To make the cake, you will need: 200g grated carrot, 4 pieces stem ginger (grated), 2 eggs, 200ml vegetable oil, 150g caster sugar, 50g light brown soft sugar, 250g plain flour, 2tsp baking powder, pinch salt, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp mixed spice, 1tsp ground ginger, zest 1 lemon, 2tbsp greek yogurt.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a loaf tin.

Whisk together the eggs, oil, light brown sugar, salt and lemon zest in a jug.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the caster sugar, plain flour, baking powder and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, beat the wet into the dry until fully incorporated and smooth.

Add the greek yoghurt and stir thoroughly to loosen the consistency. Add the grated carrot and ginger and mix in.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

When the cake is golden brown (or a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached) it is ready. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting and decoration, you will need: juice 1 lemon, 250g cream cheese, 1tbsp icing sugar, zest 1 lemon, crystallised ginger, lime zest.

While the cake is cooling, pierce lots of holes in the surface. Pour the lemon juice over so it seeps through the holes. Set aside.

In a small bowl beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon zest. Spread over the top of the cake (it must be cool to do this) and sprinkle chopped ginger and lime zest down the centre.

Slice up and serve (this cake is even better after a couple of days- if it lasts that long!).

Enjoy!

A Festive Twist…

Pastry

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Everyone loves a Bakewell Tart, so why not make my seasonal variation of the classic British dessert this Christmas instead of a batch of mince pies? Sliced up hot or cold, this bake is a real crowd pleaser and gives your jar of mincemeat a much needed make over.

(I know this post might seem a little premature, but this is a bake you can whip up, freeze and serve whenever you need it- ideal for anyone with their hands full this year!)
So, for the pastry you will need: 230g plain flour, 125g unsalted butter (cubed), 3tbsp caster sugar, pinch salt, 2 egg yolks and 3 tbsp whole milk (OR one block readymade short crust pastry)

Rub the flour and butter together between your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and salt then mix.

Tip your egg yolks and milk into the bowl and stir with a knife. Bring the ingredients together with your hands to form a ball, handling as little as possible (the less you handle the pastry the more crumbly and delicious it will be!). If the pastry seems too dry add another teaspoon of milk.

Wrap the ball of pastry in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for half an hour. In the meantime, grease a 22cm loose bottom tart tin and preheat the oven to 200c (fan).

After 30 minutes, remove your pastry from the fridge (or reach for the pack of readymade!) and flour a work surface. Roll the pastry out to about 4mm thick then line your tart tin, patching up any gaps with excess pastry and pushing it right into the corners.

Blind bake your pastry case for 15 minutes (10 minutes lined with greaseproof paper and baking beans then 5 minutes without) then remove from the oven.

Now, to make your filling and topping you will need:
¾ jar mincemeat, 1 apple (finely chopped), 1tsp cinnamon, zest 1 lemon, 150g caster sugar, 150g butter, 150g ground almonds, 1 large egg and a handful flaked almonds.

Mix the mincemeat, apple, cinnamon and zest then spread generously across the base of your pastry case.

Next, whisk together the sugar, butter, ground almonds and egg until smooth, then dollop all over the mincemeat. Use a palette knife to level out the mix to the edges of the tart case. Finally, sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Turn the oven down to 180c (fan) and pop your tart in to bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Leave the tart to cool in the tin then remove and dust with icing sugar. Serve with a dollop of brandy butter or creme fraiche!

Enjoy!

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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…