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White Forest Gateau

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The final cake, though I wouldn’t pipe icing around the top or use fresh cherries next time.

This is a cake that I adapted from a recipe that I found in delicious. magazine. I made the original a couple of months ago but didn’t care for the icing at all. I decided I wanted to nail a cake with cherry and almond flavours, that featured white chocolate, but it couldn’t be cloying or heavy.

I also had various visions of how the final cake would be decorated. But I think I made it too fussy and old fashioned on this occasion and would definitely scale back a bit next time. But I thought it would be helpful to include the process to show that it usually takes a few attempts to get to where you want to be.

Ingredients

150g of Plain Flour

50g of Ground Almonds

2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

300g of Caster Sugar

5 Medium Eggs, separated

1/2 Teaspoon of Cream of Tartar

2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Teaspoons of Almond Extract

115g of Vegetable Oil

250g of good Cherry Jam

 

Syrup ( if you don’t want to use alcohol you could make it all water and sugar)

70g of Sugar

30g of Water

40g of Kirsch

 

White Chocolate Cream

450 of Double Cream

180g of White Chocolate

90g of Icing Sugar

Decoration

30g of Freeze Dried Cherries or Freeze Dried Cherry Powder

150g of White Chocolate

Before you start baking it is a good idea to make your white chocolate bark or shards for the sides of the cake. I didn’t execute mine especially well the first time: I didn’t temper the chocolate (naughty Frances!) and left it too thick.

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Too thick!

Melt the 150g of white chocolate (temper it if you can) and spread it out thinly on some sheets of greaseproof paper, then carefully roll it up around a cardboard tube. Allow to cool then pop it in the fridge or freezer.

Now for the cake:

  1. Grease and line two 8″ deep sided sandwich pans. Preheat the oven to 170C (or 150C fan).
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and stir through the ground almonds and 200g of the caster sugar.
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until foamy, add the cream of tartar, then whisk until soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 100g of caster sugar as if you are making meringue.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until creamy, then add the vanilla and almond extracts and the oil. Mix well.DSC_0020 (1)
  5. Add the egg yolk mix to the dry mix. It will be a thick paste like above.DSC_0024
  6. Add a heaped spoonful of the egg white mixture to loosen the egg yolk mixture (which is very stiff) then fold in the rest of the egg whites.DSC_0025
  7. Divide the mixture between the two baking pans and bake for 30-35 mins until risen, golden and firm.DSC_0007
  8. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from their pans and cool completely. They will sink a little in the middle, so don’t worry.

Make the Kirsch syrup whilst the cakes are cooling.

  1. Put the sugar, water and kirsch in a saucepan on a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool.DSC_0012
  2. When the cakes have completely cooled, level their tops and pour the syrup over both of them.

Now make the White Chocolate Cream.

  1. Carefully melt the white chocolate in a bain marie.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar into the double cream and whip until very soft peaks.
  3. Pour the melted white chocolate into the whipped double cream and whip again. Be very careful not to over whip. You want firm peaks but not dry or split.

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Spread the cherry jam over one of the cakes, followed by a good layer (about 1cm thick) of the icing. Place the other cake on top, cut side down. Now cover the cake gently (to avoid getting crumbs through the icing) and evenly all over.

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If using freeze dried cherry pieces, put them in a food processor and whizz up until they are like dust. Sprinkle this through a sieve on the top of the cake.

Unwrap the cold or frozen white chocolate. It will break into shards. Press the sides into the side of the cake until it is covered.

As you can see from my top photograph, I piped icing and placed fresh cherries on the cake. Next time, I will leave it with the freeze dried cherries and white chocolate shards, but you can choose whatever way you want to decorate, and I appreciate that you may not want to order some freeze dried cherries for a one off. You may not even want to bother with the white chocolate on the side (or buy some ready made white chocolate shavings.) If so, don’t worry, you will still get the chocolate flavour through the white chocolate cream. The cake would also look beautiful with just the icing and a few piped rosettes and fresh cherries. Or if you wanted some crunch, some slivers of almonds pressed around the sides would also be delicious and pretty.

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I should have stopped here! Less is often more in my book.

Keep the cake cool until you are ready to serve because of the fresh cream, but it will still be enjoyable after a night in the fridge if it doesn’t all get eaten on the day it’s made.

Cherry & Almond Squares

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I can’t take much credit for this recipe: it is based on an old favourite of mine from BBC Good Food magazine, Blackberry and Coconut Squares. I did reduce the amount of sugar and change the flavourings, however.

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It came about because I saw a large carton of fresh cherries reduced at the supermarket and decided to buy them and give the recipe a new twist. I find with fruity recipes, that I like to alter them according to the season and what’s easily available.

Ingredients:

250g of Self Raising Flour

25g of Oats

230g of Light Brown Sugar

200g of Cold Butter, cubed

30g of Ground Almonds

300g Fresh Cherries, stoned and halved

2 Medium Eggs

1/2 Teaspoon of Almond Extract

50g of Flaked Almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan oven) and line an 8″ square baking tin.DSC_0009 (1)
  2. Put the flour, oats, sugar and butter in a large bowl and rub together until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix through the ground almonds.DSC_0011
  4. Weigh out 150g of this breadcrumb mixture in a separate bowl and add the flaked almonds to it, and mix through again.
  5. Break the eggs into a bowl and add the almond extract. Beat the eggs lightly.DSC_0014
  6. Add the egg mixture to the remaining breadcrumbs mixture and stir through. It will be a thick and sticky batter.DSC_0015
  7. Put the batter into the lined baking tin and spread it as evenly as you can.DSC_0019
  8. Spread the prepared fresh cherries over the batter, pressing a few in.
  9. Spread the breadcrumb and flaked almond mixture over the cherries, clumping some of it in your hand as you go.DSC_0021
  10. Bake in the oven for about an hour until the top is golden and crunchy and the inside firm. If the top looks as though it is going to burn, cover loosely with foil.DSC_0008 (2)
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool if you wish to cut it into tidy squares or serve warm with custard, cream or ice-cream as dessert.

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I am already thinking of how I can adapt this for orchard fruits in the autumn, with plums and cinnamon a firm favourite.

I hope you enjoy this summery traybake.

Elderflower and Strawberry Summer Celebration

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This cake is a combination of tweaked recipes from elsewhere and my own imagination. It came about because of my recent obsession with elderflower. I have always loved the flavour of elderflower and knew that people gathered the flowers and made their own cordial and wine, but for some reason I assumed it didn’t grow in Scotland.

But since getting our puppy, then moving to our new house and village, I have become much more aware of the passing seasons and the flowers, trees and plants around me. I had a rough idea of what elderflower looked like but wasn’t sure. Then I saw some flowers that I thought might be it whilst out on a walk with the dog. I photographed it and had it confirmed by my friends on a Facebook group, who are keen cooks and bakers. I researched more about collecting and making cordial and decided to give it a try.

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I decided to use The River Cottage recipe which was very straight forward and easy. During the process I did doubt how it was going to taste because it didn’t smell especially edible when I poured the boiling water on the flower heads, but all came good by the morning after the sugar and lemon and orange juice had been added.

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I had been thinking of how best to use this summer flavour in a desert or cake for Father’s Day, and eventually took inspiration from a strawberry cake that I had previously made using a BBC Good Food recipe.

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The Queen of Hearts cake that I made using a recipe from BBC Good Food (link at the end of the post).

I won’t pretend that this cake is super fast, but if you have the time and patience it’s worth it for a special family occasion and is very summery. Of course, making your own cordial is completely optional: I just had a bee in my bonnet about trying it out. I do actually have some ready made in a bottle in my kitchen from Ikea.

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Ingredients

Cake:

150g of Butter

150g of Caster Sugar

150g of Self Raising Flour

3 Medium Eggs, beaten

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

2 Teaspoons of Elderflower Cordial plus 100ml to soak the baked and cooled sponge

Filling:

450g of Strawberries

75g of Icing Sugar

2 Gelatine Leaves

1 Tablespoon of Elderflower Cordial

300ml of Double Cream

To Decorate:

1 Tablespoon of Icing Sugar

200ml of Double Cream

3 Tablespoons of Elderflower Cordial

5/6 Strawberries

Fresh and washed Elderflowers

You will also need two 8″ round sandwich tins, and a loose bottomed 7″ deep sided round tin.

  1. Grease and line the two 8″ sandwich tins and preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then very slowly add the eggs. Add a spoon of flour if you are worried about the mixture cuddling.
  3. Add the flour and fold in.
  4. Add the vanilla and cordial and mix in gently.
  5. Split the mixture between the two tins, smooth out and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Allow them to cool a little for a few minutes before turning out to cool completely.
  7. Whilst the cakes cool, make the strawberry cream for the filling.
  8. Wash and remove the stalks of 150g of strawberries. Put them in a food processor or blender with 75g of icing sugar and blend until smooth.
  9. Soak the two gelatine leaves in some cold water.
  10. Put the strawberry puree in a saucepan with the cordial and warm through. When it is hot (not boiling) squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add them to the strawberry mixture and stir until dissolved.
  11. Put this mixture to one side and allow to cool completely. You can pop it in the fridge to speed this up.
  12. Meanwhile, wash and remove the stalks of the remaining 300g of strawberries for the filling. Try to gather strawberries of a similar size and half them. These are going to line the tin so should be as uniform as possible. Chop up the rest of the strawberries (it’s a good idea to wait to do this until after you’ve lined the tin with the halved strawberries first).DSC_0524
  13. Once the cakes are cool, line the 7″ tin with greaseproof paper. Trim the sponges to the exact size as the tin, and level off the tops so that they are even.
  14. Place one sponge on the bottom of the tin. It will be a snug fit.
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  15. Drizzle or brush 50ml of the cordial over the sponge at the base of the tin.
  16. Now line up the uniform strawberries inside the tin with their cut edge facing outwards.DSC_0527 (2)
  17. Scatter the rest of the cut strawberries inside the ring of strawberries.DSC_0529
  18. Make the strawberry filling by whisking the 300ml of double cream until firm then folding in the cooled strawberry puree.DSC_0532 (1)
  19. Gently add the strawberry filling to the tin, making sure it goes between all the gaps between the strawberries, especially the ones lining the tin. Give the tin a gently tap on the work top to help ensure the gaps are filled. Smooth the top off.
  20. Place the second cake on top and soak the remaining 50ml of cordial over it.
  21. Place the cake in a fridge to firm up for at least an hour, but your could leave it longer.
  22. When you are ready to finish the cake off, whip up the remaining 200ml of double cream with 3 tablespoons of cordial until firm enough to pipe.DSC_0527 (1)
  23. Remove the cake from the tin as carefully as you can. Using a sieve, sprinkle the centre of the cake with icing sugar. Then pipe the elderflower flavoured cream around the top edge before placing the last of the strawberries and fresh elderflowers on it.

If you were not going to eat the cake within the hour I would pop it back in the fridge to help it to keep its shape, but remove it about half an hour before you want to eat it.

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BBC Good Food Queen of Hearts cake

Mocha Coffee Cake

DSC_0532.jpgI came up with this recipe for my old school friend who was coming over for coffee. I asked her what her favourite cake flavours were and she said: coffee, coconut, fruit and dark chocolate. I decided coffee and chocolate was a good way to go.

I’ve long been a fan of Annie Bell’s Coffee and Walnut cake. Her coffee and mascarpone cream is so very delicious: it’s creamy but not clawing; and it feels luxurious and decadent, but is incredibly simple to make. The topping is almost identical to Annie Bell’s, so I can’t take credit for how delicious it is. But I decided I wanted to make more of a coffee sponge, incorporating chocolate, and leaving out the nuts on this occasion (though you could always sprinkle chopped walnuts on the top if you fancy). I also wanted to add more flavour and moisture by using a sugar syrup on the cake itself.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

150g of Butter at room temperature

150g of Golden Caster Sugar

150g of Self Raising Flour

3 Medium Eggs

2 Heaped Teaspoons of Instant Coffee

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

100g of Dark Chocolate Chips

For the Syrup:

80g of Golden Caster Sugar

50ml of Water

30ml of Tia Maria or Kahlua (or a further 30ml of water if you prefer)

1 Teaspoon of Instant Coffee

For the topping:

150g of Mascarpone

1 Teaspoon of Icing Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Golden Syrup

3 Teaspoons of Strong Black Coffee

1 Teaspoon of Cocoa

Chocolate coated coffee beans (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (or 160C fan) and grease and line a 7″ round cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs with the instant coffee until the coffee is dissolved.
  4. Slowly add the egg and coffee mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing well between additions. Add a teaspoon of flour to prevent curdling.
  5. Mix in the vanilla.
  6. Fold in the flour then fold in the chocolate chips.DSC_0515
  7. Put the batter in the cake tin and smooth the top, then bake for 35-40 minutes until risen, dark golden and a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes whilst you make the syrup.
  9. Warm the water, Tia Maria (if using), sugar and coffee in a pan over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.DSC_0518
  10. Pierce the cake all over with a skewer.DSC_0519
  11. Slowly our the syrup over the cake, focusing on where the cake is pierced.
  12. Allow to cool completely.
  13. To make the topping, simply add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix together gently: it does not need to be whipped. I find it pipes better when firm, so chill in the fridge for 15 minutes if you intend to pipe it.DSC_0523
  14. Spread or pipe over the cooled cake and sieve some cocoa over the top. If you fancy using chocolate coated coffee beans then finish off with these. Alternatively, you could grate dark chocolate over the mascarpone cream if you prefer.

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Serve with your favourite hot drink: we enjoyed ours with mugs of coffee.

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I hope you enjoy making this quick and easy coffee cake.

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Pistachio and Apricot Tart

 

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This recipe came about simply from chancing upon some very pretty apricots at the supermarket. I thought they would be delicious in a frangipane type tart, but then wondered what it would be like to substitute pistachios for the traditional almonds. There was only one way to find out; and I was delighted with the result. I have to say, though, that it’s maybe not the prettiest tart that I’ve ever made, and almost looks savoury. But I can assure you that it is sweet and delicious.

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Ingredients:

300g of Sweet Pastry

100g of Butter, at room temperature

100g of Caster Sugar

2 Medium Eggs

150g of Pistachios

40g of Self Raising Flour

3 or 4 Apricots

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Roll out the pastry and line an 8″ tart tin with it, leaving the excess to hang over the edge. Prick the base with a fork several times and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  2. Whilst the pastry is chilling prepare the apricots by cutting them in half and removing the stones. dsc_0191
  3. Place 100g of the pistachios in a food processor and blitz them until they are fine, small pieces (they don’t need to be quite the powder of ground almonds but close).dsc_0195
  4. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans and bake blind for 20 minutes, then remove the lining paper and beans and put it back in the oven to dry out the base for a further 5-10 minutes.
  5. Once blind baked leave the pastry case to one side and make the filling. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one by one, with a dessert spoon of flour to stop them from curdling. Once both eggs have been incorporated, add any remaining flour plus the 100g of ground pistachios and mix well.
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    When I first made this, I poached the apricots, but soon realised there was no need to do this, hence them looking already cooked in the picture above.

  6. Spread the pistachio mixture out over the base of the tart case, then add the cut apricots (cut side down) on top. Roughly chop the remaining 50g of pistachios and scatter over the batter.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the batter is firm. Watch the edges of the pastry for catching and cover loosely with foil of you think there is a risk of the top burning.dsc_0217
  8. Allow to cool in the tin. Trim the excess pastry from the top of the tart and serve on its own or with cream.

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I hope you give this tart a try if you are a fan of pistachios whilst the apricots are in season.

Blueberry and Lime Bundt Cake

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Greetings from the blogging wilderness. I have moved house, unpacked a little and started to plan a lot. In the mean time, I have been quietly finding my way round my new oven (and planning its replacement). So, with an extension in the offing, blog posts won’t be super frequent, but I hope you will stay with me, and that the odd wee recipe like this will keep you interested.

It really is a super simple cake but, I think, very delicious. I tweaked and adapted Felicity Cloake’s Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe and ended up with this. If you want fruity, zingy, and moist, then this is the cake for you. It doesn’t need to be iced or served with cream. And it doesn’t need to be in a bundt tin: a loaf tin or even small round tin would be just as nice.

Ingredients:

175g of Butter

175g of Caster Sugar

3 medium eggs

4 Unwaxed Limes (3 might be enough if they are large)

100g of Self Raising Flour

75g of Ground Almonds

150g Fresh Blueberries plus a teaspoon of flour

Syrup:

Juice of the limes (about 100ml)

100g of Caster Sugar

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan oven. Grease or spray your bundt tin (or any other shape that you want to use).
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Zest the limes to give you three decent teaspoons of zest. Add this to the creamed butter and sugar and mix once more.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, with a teaspoon of flour after each addition to stop it from curdling.
  5. Once all the eggs are incorporated, tip the rest of the flour and ground almonds in, and fold in gently.DSC_0193
  6. Coat the blueberries in a teaspoon of flour, add most to the batter, and fold again.
  7. Carefully put the batter into the prepared tin and smooth gently. Scatter the remaining blueberries and gently press in to the batter.DSC_0196
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.DSC_0197
  9. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out.DSC_0200
  10. Mix the 100g of caster sugar with the juice from the limes and slowly drizzle it over the cake, allowing it to absorb slowly. If you wish to hold some back for serving, do so.

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It is very moist and has a tender crumb. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family did.

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Speculaas Snowflakes

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There is no lengthy introduction to this recipe. I was given Gingerbread Wonderland for Christmas last year, but never got round to making any of the recipes in the book. Then I was recommended The Speculaas Spice Company later in the year. I decided to order some of their Speculaas spice blend in Autumn and to make Speculaas biscuits as gifts for my kids’ teachers for Christmas.

Steven, from The Speculass Spice Company, included a lot useful information about the spice blend, including a recipe. Their website has even more recipes. But I decided to make a new recipe with elements from their recipe and with those in Gingerbread Wonderland, and here it is.

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Ingredients:

100g of Butter
150g of Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Medium Egg
The zest of half an Orange
200g of Plain Flour
1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
3 Teaspoons of Speculass Spice Mix
50g of Ground Almonds

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until paler and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg with a dessert spoon of flour, and the orange zest, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together then add them to the butter, sugar, egg and zest. Mix until combined with a large spoon. It will be a soft dough but not sticky.
  4. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 160C (140C fan).dsc_0541
  6. Roll out the dough to the thickness of a £1 coin, then cut out the shaped biscuits and place on a baking tray. I used the Snowflake Cookie Cutters from Lakeland, but you could do any shape that you wish (you can buy wooden Speculaas moulds from the Speculaas Spice Company if you fancy being traditional).DSC_0545 (1).jpg
  7. Chill the cut out biscuits for 15-30 minutes then bake for 12 minutes. After a couple of minutes of cooling on the oven tray, move them to a cooling rack until completely cool and firm.

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So, if you are looking for something a little bit different from Gingerbread, then I think you should give these a try. They were a big hit in our house; I hope the teachers enjoy them just as much.

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Apple and Cranberry Snowflake Pies

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The creation of these came about entirely from the purchase of the snowflake pie mould from Lakeland. Initially, I thought about making regular mince pies with it, then I thought it might be nice to make something equally Christmassy but slightly lighter. I came up with apple and cranberry and the combination, with some Christmas spice, works very well, and would make a great alternative to those who don’t like traditional mincemeat.

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Ingredients for the filling:

1 Large Bramley Apple (about 250g once peeled, cored and chopped)

50g of Dried Cranberries (soaked overnight in 20g of Vanilla Vodka or orange juice)

100g of Light Brown Sugar

15g of Butter

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

1/2 Teaspoon of Mixed Spice

1 Stick of Cinnamon

1 Heaped Teaspoon of Plain Flour

Zest of an Orange

  1. Soak the dried cranberries overnight in the vodka or orange juice to allow them to plump up.IMG_9868.jpg
  2. Chop the apple into small pieces and combine all the ingredients, except the plain flour, in a large pan and heat on medium.dsc_0545
  3. Cook the apple mixture, stirring every couple of minutes on a medium heat, allowing it to bubble away and break down a little, for about ten minutes.dsc_0552
  4. Once you feel that the apples have started to soften, add the plain flour, stir it in quickly whilst on the heat for a minute or two, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. It is now ready to use once cool.

Pastry

You can use bought pastry or make your own. You will need about 400/450g of pastry to make 12 snowflake pies. You could easily make these in a regular mince pie shape if you don’t have the snowflake mould.

This is a recipe that I got from a magazine, written by the owner of Betty’s tearooms in Yorkshire.

250g of Plain Flour

60g of Chilled Butter

125g of Caster Sugar

1 Large Egg, beaten plus another beaten egg for sealing the pies

  1. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it resemble breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the beaten egg and bring together. If it is a little dry, add a teaspoon of cold water.
  3. Form into a flat round, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least half an hour.

Now comes the fun bit: making the pies. I won’t lie; they are quite time consuming, so make them when you have time and patience. But they are so pretty and deeply satisfying to make, and, therefore, are well worth the effort.

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Roll out your pastry to the thickness of a £1 as you would with regular mince pies. Then cut out 12 whole snowflake shapes, followed by 12 patterned snowflakes. (I think I would like to try making them without the holes in the future). You will need to scrape together the dough and roll it out a couple of times, but handle it gently and you should be fine.

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To make each pie, you need to place a whole snowflake shape back the pie mould, lining up the edges, then gently pressing down in the middle to stretch the pastry to fill the mould. Obviously, be gentle and take your time, so as not to rip the pastry.

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Lightly brush the edges of the snowflake shape with the extra beaten egg then add a heaped teaspoon of cool filling in to the centre of the pastry. Line up a patterned snowflake and press down gently.

Finally fold the other side of the mould over and press down to seal and created the impression along the edge of the pie. They should pop right out onto your hand. Place them on a baking sheet or a shallow mince pie tin.

Once you have made 12, cover loosely with clingfilm and chill for half an hour whilst the oven heats up to 180C (160C fan over).

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Then bake them for 20-25 minutes until golden and crisp.

You can leave them as they are, but I dusted them with icing sugar. They are delicious served warm (not straight out of the oven) with cream. I hope you enjoy their fruity spice as much as we did.

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At long last…

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It took a while, but I got there in the end with this recipe and beautifully detailed cake. It wasn’t so much the cake recipe, which I adapted from the Nordicware recipe card that came with the Snowflake tin, but getting it out of the damn tin.

I had an idea to adapt the almond cake recipe by adding some dried cherries soaked in Amaretto (which, by the way, are awesome on their own). It just felt more festive. Once I had fiddled with the batter amount and worked out the optimum quantity of cherries and soaking liquid, I thought it would be easy to pop the cake straight out using homemade goop (it works on other bundt and detailed pans). But this was not to be. This pan is on a different scale of difficulty to remove cake from.

I made it again, coating far more liberally with goop: fail. Then I looked on the internet for advice and it said you should only use a small amount on detailed pans like this, so I tried that. But that also failed.

I could see other people using this pan and releasing their cakes whole and beautifully detailed on social media, so I knew it wasn’t impossible. But it was so frustrating.

My friend, Jersey Jackie, knew the difficulties I was having with this cake. I mentioned that I had heard of Baker’s Joy, a spray release that is made and recommended by Nordic Ware for their more detailed pans. In this country it ranges from £6 to £40. Jackie responded in horror when I told her this, knowing that it sold for about $2 in her supermarket. She was a the best friend a baker could have because she bought me two cans and posted it over (though we suspect we may be sent to postal hell for posting them). I was prepared to give it one more shot before sending the beautiful pan to the charity shop. And I wouldn’t have persevered if the actual cake hadn’t tasted so good.

And, so, after four or five failed attempts, I finally managed to release the delicious cake from the tin completely intact, and smelling delicious.

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So, would you like the recipe? This cake would make a great cake for the festive period, even an alternative to rich fruit Christmas cake. Serve it with lots of berries and some fresh cream, and you have a light desert that has all the flavour of Christmas.

And if you don’t have the snowflake tin, just bake it in a 7″ round tin. Sprinkle with icing sugar and berries at it will be equally as Christmassy.

Cherry and Amaretto Almond Cake

Start the day or evening before you want to bake the cake so that you can soak the dried cherries in the Amaretto. They should absorb all or almost all of the liquid, but drain them before tossing in the flour before baking to be sure that they are not too wet.

100g of Dried Cherries

50ml of Amaretto

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The dried cherries will soften and plump up in the Amaretto.

115g Soft Butter

200g Caster Sugar

2 Medium Eggs, gently beaten

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extact

1 Teaspoon of Almond Extract

100ml Milk

200g Plain Flour

50g Ground Almonds

1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder

 

A Tablespoon of Icing Sugar to sprinkle over the finished cake.

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  1. Spray your tin with Baker’s Joy and pre-heat your oven to 180C (or 160C if it’s a fan oven). If you are using a regular baking tin, grease and line as normal.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the Vanilla and Almond extract and quickly beat in.
  4. Add the Baking Powder and Ground Almonds to the Plain Flour and sieve.
  5. Slowly add the beaten egg to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, beating well between additions, adding a teaspoon of the flour mixture to avoid curdling each time.
  6. Once all the egg is added, fold in one third of the rest of the flour, baking powder and ground almond mixture.
  7. Now fold in a third of the milk. Repeat, alternating between the dry mixture and the milk.
  8. Toss the drained cherries in a tablespoon of flour.
  9. Put the batter in the tin, then add the floured cherries, pushing some in to the batter and leaving a few on top. This is less of an issue if you are using a regular tin, but you really don’t want the cherries to sink to the bottom of the snowflake tin and get stuck to the details.dsc_0151
  10. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean. If baking in a 7″ round tin, it may take longer.dsc_0154
  11. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes. Time this and don’t guess otherwise that cake may not pop out of the tin.
  12. After 10 minutes, turn the cake out upside down on a rack to cool.
  13. Once cool dust with icing sugar and serve as you please.

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I am so glad that I stuck with this cake because the finished cake is so damn pretty. And there is no fancy decoration required at all; just a sprinkling of icing sugar.

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I hope you give it a try and enjoy it too.

 

The Elvis Bundt

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In the distant past this cake started off as Nigella Lawson’s Banana Loaf. Since I have been using this recipe I have fiddled with it a few times. Then, when my American friend sent me Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips, I decided that peanut butter would be a splendid addition. Of course, The King was famous for loving this combination; hence the title.

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This recipe doesn’t make a large bundt. It fills a 2lb loaf tin, if that is your preference, or a 6 cup bundt pan (about 1.5 litres). It’s an every day cake that is easy to portion and slice up.

And if you can’t get the peanut butter chips, then get the same weight in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and chop them into chocolate chip sized pieces.

First, make the cake.

Ingredients

175g of Plain Flour

2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

1/2 Teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

125g of Melted Butter

120g of Light Brown Sugar

2 Large Eggs

3 Ripe Bananas

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

150g of Peanut Butter Chips

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (150C fan) and coat the inside of your bundt tin in cake release or homemade goop (which is one part flour, one part flavourless oil, and one part shortening {I use Trex}).
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl and put to one side.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar together, then mix in the eggs.
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract and the bananas, followed by the peanut butter chips.
  5. Fold in the flour mixture in two batches and mix gently until all combined.
  6. Pour into your tin, gently tapping it on the worktop, then bake for 35-40 minutes. (If you are baking in the loaf tin, it will take over an hour, but check after 50 minutes). The cake is ready when a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Then gently shake the pan to make sure it is loose then turn out on to a cooling rack. Leave until completely cool.

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Whilst the cake is cooling, you can make the Peanut Brittle.

Peanut Brittle

15g of Butter

100g of Caster Sugar

70g of Peanuts (I used salted, but unsalted is fine if that’s your preference)

  1. Put the sugar and butter in a heavy bottomed pan and heat slowly on medium until the they have melted together to form a golden caramel.
  2. As soon as there are no sugar granules left, add the peanuts and stir quickly to coat them all in caramel.
  3. Pour the peanut and caramel mixture on to a silicone or paper lined tray and spread out.
  4. Allow to cool and harden before breaking up and chopping to the desired consistency. I made mine quite fine, but you might prefer big chunks, or even to pulse it in a blender for a super fine powder.

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Only when the cake is completely cool should you make the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

200g of Dark Chocolate

4 Tablespoons of Golden Syrup

100g of Butter

Place all ingredients in a bowl over simmering water and stir until melted and well blended. Allow it to cool for 10-20 minutes (until it is about 40C), stirring every few minutes, before pouring it over the cooled cake. 

[If you decide to make this as a loaf cake, then only make a quarter of the quantity of chocolate glaze and simply drizzle back and forth across the top of the cooled loaf.]

Cover the cake in the glaze by leaving the cake on the cooling rack, but place some greaseproof paper underneath to catch the excess chocolate glaze. After putting the glaze in a jug pour it carefully over the bundt cake, making sure that it is completely covered and fairly smooth. Once you have covered it, give the rack a couple of taps on the work top to ensure a smoother finish. Allow is to rest for 15 minutes.

Move the cake as carefully as you can (without disturbing the glaze) with a palette knife and spatula to the serving plate or stand. Simply grab small handfuls of the chopped peanut brittle and press it into the bottom edge of the cake. It should adhere to the still soft glaze. Brush or blow away any excess.

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If you prefer, you could sprinkle it over the top, or use shards of brittle and decorate the top of the cake with them.

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The Elvis Bundt isn’t a fine dining dessert. It’s a ‘take a slice and have it with your morning coffee’ kind of cake.

The cake is moist and heavily flavoured with banana. But when you eat it you get the occasional chunk of peanut butter, and it just works as a flavour combination so well. The chocolate glaze adds a touch of decadence and the peanut brittle adds another layer of flavour with the addition of a little but of crunch.

And if it takes your fancy, go crazy with the decoration. Add sprinkles and edible glitter and take Elvis to Las Vegas.

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I hope you enjoy it as much as my colleagues did.