Looking at the photographs of this cake, you could be fooled into thinking it’s mid Autumn and the trees are turning. They’re not, but given the weather here in the UK (it’s pretty miserable; grey skies and that fluffy rain which get’s you far more wet than you’d think) it might as well be. With this in mind I thought I’d bake something spiced, nutty, simple and comforting to combat the bad weather blues: enter this moist carrot and apple loaf cake laced with cinnamon, ginger and walnuts topped with maple cream cheese frosting…
225ml vegetable oil
225g soft light brown sugar
125g grated carrot
125g grated apple
225g self raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g chopped walnuts
zest 1 lemon
For the icing;
5tbsp maple syrup
2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
250g cream cheese (full fat)
100ml double cream
Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a large loaf tin with baking paper.
Place the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and, using electric beaters, beat together until voluminous and well combined. Now add the grated carrot and apple and briefly beat again to evenly distribute.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt over the wet ingredients and beat in until just combined. Lastly, fold in the walnuts and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool in the tin.
While the cake is cooling, make the maple cream cheese icing. Simply whisk together all the ingredients until thick and spreadable.
Once the cake is completely cool, top with the cream cheese icing and some walnuts, edible flowers or apple crisps, if you’re feeling fancy.
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
200g self raising flour
8 cardamom pods, emptied and ground
3tbsp coffee granules mixed with 3tbsp boiling water
For the buttercream:
200g softened butter
400g icing sugar
2tbsp coffee granules mixed with 2tbsp boiling water
For the praline:
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.
These bars are the perfect grab and go treat to keep you going on a hectic day- I love my rhubarb and ginger jam sandwiched between the peanut butter flapjack and nutty topping, but you could choose any marmalade or jam in your version.
75g coconut oil
175g peanut butter (or another nut butter ie. almond, cashew)
150g dark brown soft sugar
4tbsp golden syrup
300g porridge oats
Filling and topping:
200g rhubarb and ginger jam (or your favourite jam- fig or raspberry would work well)
200g flaked almonds
75g brazil nuts
100g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a brownie tray.
For the base place the coconut oil, peanut butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan. Melt together over a medium heat. Tip the oats into a large bowl and add the melted liquid. Stir together until well combined then pack down into the prepared baking tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
For the topping, heat the caster sugar and water together over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve then pour into a bowl along with all the nuts. Stir together to coat.
Now you can assemble the next layers. Spread the jam all over the flapjack base and spoon on the nuts in an even layer. Press down the top then bake for 15-20 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown.
Alternating layers of brown sugar cake and chocolate sponge sandwiched with peanut buttercream, chopped peanuts, salted caramel sauce and chocolate ganache make up this look-at-me celebration cake (and ode to the Snickers bar)… A bit of a project? Yes. Worth it? Definitely!
For the chocolate sponge:
50g dark chocolate (melted and cooled)
250g soft butter
250g soft light brown sugar
100g cocoa powder
250g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
For the brown sugar sponge:
165g dark brown soft sugar
150g self raising flour
20g melted butter
60ml boiling water
For the peanut buttercream:
150g smooth peanut butter
100g soft butter
500g icing sugar
For the ganache:
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
200ml double cream
For the salted caramel:
150g caster sugar
pinch salt (to taste)
75ml double cream
For decoration (optional):
chopped Snickers bars
thin ganache to create drips
Preheat the oven to 160c. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins ready for the chocolate cake layers.
To make the chocolate cake, cream together the butter, sugar and salt.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Now sift in about two thirds of the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Fold, then incorporate the melted chocolate with the same gentle action.
Fold in the rest of the dry ingredients followed by the milk. Distribute this batter between the two cake tins and bake for 30 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).
Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
Line the cake tins again and increase the oven temperature to 170c. Now you’re ready to make the brown sugar sponge layers!
To make this sponge place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) then whisk until light and voluminous (about 10 minutes). Sift in the flour and fold, then add the melted butter and boiling water to the side of the bowl. Fold very gently to retain the air then distribute between the tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes until springy (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).
When the brown sugar sponges are cooked, cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. You should now have four cake layers (two chocolate and two brown sugar) and are ready to make the fillings.
Start off by making the caramel. Just place the sugar and water in a heavy bottom saucepan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar (do not boil or stir, just be patient!). After the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and boil for a few minutes; once the syrup reaches a deep amber colour remove from the heat and whisk in the cream (be careful as it will spit a little). Set aside to cool slightly then stir in the salt.
For the ganache simply chop up the chocolate and transfer to a jug or bowl. Heat the cream to just below boiling point and pour all over, allowing the chocolate to slowly melt. After a couple of minutes, stir the mixture to achieve a lovely smooth, glossy consistency. Set aside.
Finally, for the peanut buttercream beat the peanut butter and butter together with electric beaters (or a stand mixer). Once well combined continue whisking while you add the icing sugar a little at a time. Once you’ve added all the icing sugar increase the speed and add the milk; whisk until very light, fluffy and smooth.
To assemble the cakes stack a chocolate layer with ganache and salted caramel, followed by a brown sugar layer. Repeat this process then cover the entire cake with peanut butter icing. You can be as neat as you like! Decorate with peanuts, Snickers pieces and chocolate shards (more is more in this case!).
I’ve been making granola at home for a while, but I usually throw in a load of sugar and butter to make it taste more like crumbled up flapjack than a nutritious breakfast essential (don’t judge, I don’t eat it everyday). This one, however, is made with peanut butter in place of dairy and agave syrup to cut out the refined sugar- it’s really delicious and packed with protein. I like it on top of yoghurt and fresh fruit but it’s also great with porridge or warm stewed apples.
350g porridge oats
2tsp ground ginger
50g roughly chopped almonds
75g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
75g chopped dried figs
50g dried cranberries
1tsp vanilla extract
30g coconut oil
100g peanut butter (or your preferred nut butter)
100ml agave syrup
Preheat the oven to 140c. Line a large tray with greaseproof paper.
Place the oats, cinnamon, ginger, almonds, seeds, figs and cranberries in a large bowl and mix together.
Gently melt the coconut oil, vanilla, peanut butter and agave together in a saucepan until smooth. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix together until all the oats and seeds are coated in the peanut butter mix.
Tip the granola mix onto the prepared baking tray and spread into an even layer. Bake for 40 minutes, turning every 10 to get an even colour on the oats.
Leave the granola to cool down then store in an airtight container until required.
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.
These quick and easy brownies are rich and delicious. I’ve swapped out the flour for ground almonds to make them gluten free which means they’re even more moist than your usual brownie, and that can only be a good thing! I love the brazil nuts in these but you could sub in any nuts you like, or dried fruit and chocolate chips.
225g dark chocolate
2tsp vanilla extract
200g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
100g roughly chopped brazil nuts
pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 170c and grease/line a brownie tray.
Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally.
Allow the chocolate to cool then whisk in the vanilla, sugar, eggs and ground almonds. Keep whisking until the batter becomes thick and light, then fold in the brazil nuts.
Pour the brownie mix into the prepared tray and bake for 20-25 minutes (the top should be crisp and the middle gooey).
Leave the brownie to cool and firm in the tin then sprinkle with sea salt, slice up and serve.