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Category Archives: Cakes

Family Christmas Cake

I’ve posted my family’s Christmas cake recipe several times over the years. It’s a wonderful cake, a recipe passed down from my grandmother over a hundred years ago. It continues to be made with great tradition and enthusiasm 4 generations on by sisters, mothers and daughters!

It’s certainly one of the baking experiences I look forward to every year at Christmas time.

The original cake recipe was for a “12 Pound Christmas Cake”. The recipe probably originated from the 1800s and was the recipe for the bottom tier of a wedding cake.

This version of the cake is very big – and will feed a lot of people! My sister still makes this cake, and I do on occasion. My favourite version of the cake however, is the “half size” cake, which I generally make each year.

It’s the quantities and method for this version I’ve listed below.

I’ve included a number of photos of the cake – same recipe, but made at different Christmas times.

Ingredients

250g butter
250g brown sugar
315g plain flour
375g raisins
375g sultanas
125g glacé cherries
65g glacé peaches
65g glacé pears
125g glacé apricots
65g glacé pineapple
65g crystallised ginger
65g mixed peel (optional)
6 large free range eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond essence
1/2 teaspoon glycerine
Juice of half an orange
Finely grated peel of half an orange
1/4 cup of good brandy/whisky – extra 1/4 cup of brandy/whisky to pour over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven.

Method
Grease a cake tin and line with baking paper or aluminum foil. I use an 18cm or 7″ square tin  or a 18cm or 7″ diameter round tin. You may end up with left over mixture with this size, so you could go up a size. I like a high cake and this cake doesn’t rise so you can fill the smaller tins fairly full.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C then turn back to 135 degrees C.  The principle of cooking a rich fruitcake is to put the cake into a preheated oven and cook very slowly. This size cake does take a long time!
The original recipe says to mix by hand in a large basin. This was lots of fun when we were growing up making the family Christmas cake but now I suggest using an electric mixer.
Cream butter and sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time.

Mix in the sifted flour lightly. Stir in spices, essences, glycerine, fruit juice and brandy/whisky, and finally stir in the fruit the larger varieties of which have previously been cut roughly. There is no need to wash the fruit. If the fruit is wet it tends to sink to the bottom of the cake.

Bake about 1½ to 2 hours or until the top is pale brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.

It’s a little hard to be more precise than this as the weather, the quality of the flour and individual ovens have a lot to do with cooking time. You can put a piece of foil over the top of the cake during the last hour of cooking if the cake browns too quickly.
When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour ½ cup of brandy/whisky over the hot cake and wrap in a towel till cool.
Turn out of the tin onto a board or large flat plate.

Almond Icing (Marzipan Icing)
250g ground almonds
375g icing sugar
1 egg white
Juice of ½ lemon

Mix all the ingredients to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into sections – one large ball for the top of the cake, the rest for the sides of the cake.
Brush the cake with apricot jam which will help the almond paste to stick. Let the cake rest for a day.

Royal Icing
2 egg whites
500g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Beat eggs lightly, add icing sugar and lemon juice.
Apply to cake with a palette knife. Be generous with this icing, to create a “snowy” effect.
Leave to set for at least a couple of hours.

The cake keeps well – up to a year – although it is at its best when eaten within 3 months. But it never lasts beyond New Year in my house!

A Week in Shetland

October 2022 and I’m back in Shetland, this time to pursue food and history. In 2019 it was all about stunning coastal walks and brilliant wildlife. And Shetland made an impression. My musings on this visit are recorded here.

So with my long suffering but enthusiastic travelling companion in tow, I certainly got to grips in a determined way with the culture and the stories of Shetland food.

A highlight was A Taste of Shetland Food and Drink Festival – blogged recently here. What an amazing experience. A really good way to encounter local produce and producers. I tasted samples of tablet, sponge cake, sourdough, bannocks, oatcake and some gin to wash it all down. Have I left anything out?

Some wonderful restaurants too, in Lerwick where we were based, doing innovative food with local, seasonal food. I think I had seafood wherever I went – Shetland seafood is gorgeous.

Some highlights were beautiful scallops and mussels at No 88 Kitchen and Bar, exquisitely presented dishes at Da Steak Hoose and the best crème brûlée ever at C’est La Vie!

But I need to do a big shout out to the Cake Fridges of Shetland – what a fantastic, quirky idea!

These are fridges literally set up on the roadside where the owner bakes cakes and treats which you buy by putting money in an honesty box. And that’s it! Shetland is such a community minded place that people are honest.

I visited The Cake Fridge in Aith – the original cake fridge, and bought hot coffee and tiffin – a kind of chocolate slice. Very Shetland and quite delicious.

On the island of Unst, seemingly in the middle of nowhere we were delighted to find a cake fridge, this time more accurately a cake dolls’ house! And on a cold and windy day we bought shortbread, more tiffin and tablet to keep us fuelled for exploring this most northerly island.

History and archeology were also on the agenda. And we struck gold when we met the eloquent and knowledgeable Chris Dyer from Garths Croft on the island of Bressay. Chris is an archeologist, historian and farmer, who is a passionate enthusiast for native and heritage breeds and sustainable farming.

An afternoon spent at Garths Croft was an immersive experience in the workings of a small croft. Readers of this blog may be aware of my love of sheep – and I was fascinated by the sheep that Chris breeds for colour. And I was particularly taken by Dinky, a sheep that had been hand reared from birth by Chris. I admit to being a bit sentimental where sheep are concerned…

Chris also is highly informed on local food and the importance of food miles in agriculture and food production in Shetland. We ate some outstanding local dishes on Chris’ recommendations.

One of those recommendations was the wonderful Speldiburn Cafe which we visited when we were on Bressay. Now here was great Shetland food – soups, bannocks. cakes and tiffin, all home made and all served with a welcoming smile!

We were able to tap into Chris’ other great passion, archeology, when we drove up to Unst, the most northerly point of the UK, driving across two islands via two ferries to reach this historic place. This bleak and windswept island is evocative, thought to be the first point of contact in the North Atlantic of the Vikings, and a treasure trove of archeological sites pertaining to Viking history.

At Haroldswick, a replica Viking Long House, where we had lunch, and a Viking ship the Skidbladner, give visitors some idea of Viking life. The replica ship actually made the voyage from Sweden to Shetland. Apparently bound for the United States in 2000, the ship stopped off in Unst where it remains today. Getting inside the ship gave me a real appreciation of how hard those Viking sea journeys must have been.

I had visited Unst in 2019, staying at Saxa Vord, at the service quarters of an old RAF base. Some of the base facilities are now being developed as part of the planned SaxaVord Spaceport, creating a successful, internationally recognised “new space business”. Today however Saxa Vord is abandoned, and we wandered around the deserted site. Another reminder of the historical strategic importance of the northerly isle – to the Viking invaders and latterly to those seeking to defend the UK on its northerly tip.

I think of all the sites we visited the ruins of Framgord Chapel and graveyard left the greatest impression on me.

Chris brought us to this special place above the beach at Sandwick. The chapel probably dates to the 12th Century. The graveyard was what fascinated me. With sweeping views of the beach, the graveyard is a testament to history and spirituality. Remarkably it’s still in use today, and contemporary headstones lie side by side with early Viking Christian graves.

On a more poignant note there is the burial place and memorial to crew members of a Norwegian ship torpedoed in 1940 during World War 2. The lifeboat was wrecked at Muness in Unst. The wild seas are still the graveyard of latter day northern seafarers.

We saw much more on Unst, and this would only have been the tip of the iceberg. The archeological treasures of Unst are numerous and bear more research.

I would add here that any trip to Shetland to discover its history is enhanced by visiting Shetland Museum in Lerwick – a really interesting and informative collection.

Of course I did and saw a lot more! I just wanted to give a snapshot, the highlights, of a memorable visit to wonderful Shetland. Highly recommended.

Tropical Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake. It’s usually associated with Halloween, although I think it can be eaten any time of the year!

It’s a really simple bake, a cross between cake and bread. It has no butter or oil in it. The moist flavour comes from soaking dried fruit in tea. Irish whiskey is also included in the soak for an added kick!

My version is “tropical” because I substituted rum for whiskey, and I added pineapple to the dried fruit. And some cream cheese frosting made it a bit more luxurious.

Ingredients

375g mixed dried fruit

100g tinned pineapple, cut into small pieces

50ml dark rum

250ml cold tea

225g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

125g brown sugar

1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 free range egg

Cream cheese frosting

60g light cream cheese *

30g softened butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pineapple juice

150g icing sugar

Glacé or tinned pineapple for decoration

Method

Place the mixed dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the rum and cold tea. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.

Grease a 20 or 22cm square cake tin and line base with baking paper. Or you could use the more traditional loaf tin – grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

I used a square cake tin for my version as I was able to cut the barmbrack into more pieces.

Mix the flour, baking powder, brown sugar and spices in a large bowl. Break in the egg and mix with a wooden spoon.

Add the tea and rum liquid a tablespoon at a time. You may not need all of it – add enough to make a fairly wet dough. But don’t add so much that you end up with soup!

Stir in the mixed fruit and pineapple until everything is combined. Spoon the batter into the lined tin, and put in the preheated oven.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Wrap in cling film and aluminium foil and leave for 1-2 days. The flavour matures over a couple of days.

Unwrap the cake. You could serve as is, with lashings of butter which is traditional, or you could make a cream cheese frosting.

Put the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and pineapple juice in an electric mixer, or even in a food processor. Mix or process until well combined.

Add the icing sugar gradually, beating until all is combined.

Spread the icing liberally over the barmbrack and decorate with pieces of glacé or tinned pineapple.

The barmbrack will keep well for a few days.

*you could use normal cream cheese not the light version – if so, you would need less icing sugar. Just add enough icing sugar to make a smooth icing.

A Taste of Shetland Food and Drink Festival 2022: an Australian’s Perspective

It’s not a surprise to readers of this blog that I love Shetland. I fell in love when I first visited in 2019.

These northerly islands with stunning scenery, rugged coastlines, windswept beaches and marvellous unique wildlife capture the imagination.

I love the islands’ Viking heritage, too, evident in archaeology, language and place names.

But it’s the food and food culture that really draw me to the islands. An abundance of local produce, a cultural shared food heritage from the many influences of sea locked islands and a generosity of spirit to share and connect with food make for some wonderful food experiences.

So it was with great delight that I learned that the Taste of Shetland Food Festival was back again as a live event in 2022.

The pandemic has put on hold so many festivals and celebrations, and when a food festival returns from a place I hold dear, there was only one thing to do – book my ticket and fly from Australia!

So a week in Shetland – some walks, tours and good restaurants – culminating in a fabulous foodie weekend. I crammed a lot into one Saturday in the Clickimin Leisure Complex in Lerwick as I already had my Sunday organised going to Unst, with Chris Dyer of Garths Croft, which was another unique cultural experience in Shetland not to be missed.

So here’s a snapshot of my day and some photos which I hope capture the spirit of the Festival. First up, after the official opening, Nick Nairn, Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstration:

A highly entertaining and informative session where Nick cooked lamb tikka skewers, sassermaet meatballs and miso salmon. All highlighting local Shetland ingredients. Nick knows his stuff and I’ve never laughed so much in a cooking show!

Next, a wander round the stalls. So many fabulous food and drink providers showing off their products! I could have eaten half of Shetland in a walk around. And I possibly did eat quite a lot of the lovely samples…

Too many providers to mention them all here, the photos will give you the idea. And lunch was a delicious beef pie from Scalloway Meat Co and a chance to sit down!

The afternoon was spent in two fabulous masterclasses, learning more about sourdough and bannocks.

Sourdough by Gus Dow taught this sourdough baker a whole lot more about the science of sourdough. Gus started with a Halloween pumpkin loaf fresh from the oven and then baked a couple of batard loaves, as well as showing how to make a sourdough starter. Great stuff!

Shetland Bannocks by Kevin Smith was the definitive workshop on bannocks for me, giving me insiders’ tips to shaping and cooking these notoriously tricky flour items. And I learnt some new Shetland vocab too. Can’t wait to try these new skills!

I also got to meet Marian Armitage, Festival Chair, “Proud Shetlander, home cook and award winning food writer”. Wow! My Festival experience was complete.

For more info on the Festival and A Taste of Shetland, click here for the website.

A great day all round, meeting, talking and eating – so congratulations to the organisers and to all involved for a successful 2022 Festival.

“Garths Croft Bressay Shetland”

Chocolate Frangipane Kugelhopf

This delicious loaf was inspired by the idea of a babka. It’s got a similar filling in an enriched dough, but it’s much easier to make as it shaped into a simple ring.

You could change the fillings to fruit, or jam or custard for instance, but who doesn’t like chocolate hazelnut spread with an almond frangipane paste?

And it does use a small quantity of sourdough starter, for flavour, but you could easily leave this out if you don’t have any on hand.

Ingredients

Dough

500g strong flour

7g instant yeast

10g salt

50g caster sugar

50g sourdough starter

275g milk

1 large free range egg beaten

50g butter

Frangipane

50g butter

50g sugar

60g ground almonds

1 large free range egg

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

150g chocolate hazelnut spread – store bought

Orange Drizzle

Juice of 1 orange

50g water

75g icing sugar

Method

For the dough, put all the dough ingredients except the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer such as a KitchenAid. Mix with a dough hook or wooden spoon to a rough dough, cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Knead the dough using the dough hook of the electric mixer for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Add the butter, in small pieces, which needs to be very soft. You can soften the butter in the microwave. Mix using the dough hook until the dough is smooth, soft and windowpanes.

Cover the dough with cling wrap and leave to prove somewhere warm for 2-3 hours. The dough should have risen, if not quite doubled in size.

Make the frangipane filling while the dough is proving. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are blended and smooth. You could also mix this by hand, it just takes a bit more work.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Remove the proven dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. Using floured hands, gently stretch the dough to a large rough rectangle.

Spread the frangipane over the rectangle, then the hazelnut chocolate spread on top of the frangipane.

Roll the dough up along the long side, then join the ends of the roll to make a circle. Move the ring to the baking tray.

Put the tray into a large plastic bag to prove. Place into the fridge overnight or for 8-12 hours.

Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan or 180 degrees C non fan forced. Add a cast iron pan of water to the bottom of the oven to create steam for baking.

Take the tray out of the plastic bag and place in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the Kugelhopf is golden brown but not burnt.

Once baked, remove from the oven.

To make the orange drizzle, mix the orange juice with the water and icing sugar. You may need more or less icing sugar – use enough to make an icing of dripping consistency.

Spoon the drizzle over the top of Kugelhopf.

Eat on the day – although the Kugelhopf will keep well as it so rich!

Bishop’s Bread

This egg rich loaf, part bread, part cake, laden with colourful glacé fruit and flaked almonds is a truly festive bake for religious occasions, such as Easter.

It’s an Austrian recipe, called “Bischofsbrot”, the name alluding to its Christian origins.

I became interested in this recipe after reading about in a publication of Sydney Living Museums, that wonderful organisation that looks after many historic properties in Sydney and NSW. The link to the original recipe is here.

The recipe comes from Rose Seidler’s recipe collection. Rose was the mother of the renowned architect Harry Seidler, whose family emigrated to Australia in 1946. There are a number of Rose’s recipes written in German in the SLM collection.

Curator and colonial gastronomer at SLM, Dr Jacqui Newling has researched and baked the recipe, from a translation by Avril Vorsay. This certainly whetted my appetite to give it a go!

It’s a pretty simple recipe – the hardest part is probably separating the eggs. It’s traditionally baked in a loaf tin, but I baked mine in 16cm/6.5 inch springform tin. This made a higher, round loaf.

Another thing to remember is that you need to wait a day before you cut it. I guess that patience is a virtue!

Ingredients
140g butter, softened, + 1 teaspoon
extra butter to grease the baking pan
140g icing sugar, sifted +extra to dust the loaf after baking
6 eggs, separated
200g glacé fruit, diced*
Zest of 1 small lemon*
100g slivered or blanched almonds
140g plain flour, sifted, + 1 tablespoon extra to dust the fruit

*You can replace the glacé fruit with
a mixture of colourful dried fruit such
as apricots, apples, sultanas and
cranberries, soaked in freshly boiled
water for 15 minutes and then well
drained. Replace the lemon zest with
store-bought mixed peel for
additional citrus flavour, colour and
texture.
Note: Bishop’s bread needs to be
made a day before serving.

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan forced). Grease the base and sides of a loaf tin* with 1 teaspoon of butter and dust with a little flour.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Dust the fruit and zest with a tablespoon of flour and toss to lightly coat the pieces (this helps to prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake). Stir the fruit and the almonds into the bowl, and fold in half the flour. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold them through the batter with the remaining flour, being careful not to overwork the batter.

Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 40–50 minutes, or until the loaf is nicely browned on top and cooked through. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the loaf – the skewer should come out clean and dry.

Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack and dust it with the sifted extra icing sugar.

Note: Once completely cooled, store the loaf overnight in a container covered with a cloth. Do not slice until the next day.

*or round springform cake tin

Very Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Everyone loves lemons, and this cake has lemon at every level! It’s tangy, sweet and moreish.

This is another buttermilk cake. I find using buttermilk gives cakes and pastries a depth of flavour and better keeping qualities. I’m a big fan.

This is a pretty large cake, for making in a large bundt tin, or large round cake tin or fancy rose Nordic Ware mold as I did. If you wanted to downsize for a 20 or 21 or 22cm cake tin, just halve the ingredients. ( For the eggs, use 3).

It’s a great cake so try making it in bundt tin at least, to make it special. Oh, for the photos I added a few “little roses” to the big one. These are also Nordic Ware molds. The recipe for these little cakes is here.

Ingredients

Cake

250g butter

300g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1

5 large free-range eggs

300g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

300mls buttermilk

Lemon drizzle

Juice of 1 lemon

50g water

75g caster sugar

Icing

Juice of 1/2 lemon

200g icing sugar or enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Lightly grease the mold or cake tin with butter. Sprinkle with flour to evenly coat. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Cream the butter and sugar well in an electric mixer, on medium speed. Add in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest and juice and mix on medium until combined.

Add the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and buttermilk and mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared mold/tin. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover the top with foil for the remainder of the bake.

While the cake is baking, make the drizzle by combining the lemon juice, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Set aside until ready to use.

Remove the cake from the oven. Pierce the top with a skewer and drizzle half the lemon drizzle over the top. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Release from the mold or tin onto a wire rack. Turn right side up onto a serving plate. Paint the cake with the remainder of the lemon drizzle with a pastry brush.

To make the icing, mix the lemon juice with the icing sugar to make a drippable icing.

When the cake is completely cold, drip the lemon icing over the cake – no need to be too precise!

It’s a moist cake so it’s great on its own, but serving with a dollop of cream wouldn’t be amiss either!

Apple Caramel Cake

While this cake may seem a bit complicated – making caramel, toasting nuts, it’s actually quite straightforward!

What makes the cake do-able is because it’s all made in a food processor! Which doesn’t mean you couldn’t make it in an electric mixer. You would just need to finely chop the nuts first, by hand or in a processor.

It’s an upsidedown cake, the caramel apples on the base become the top. The cake is nutty, with a distinct caramel flavour and a hint of spice. It’s incredibly moist and keeps well too.

Ingredients

2 apples

Caramel

100g caster sugar

40g butter

Cake

100g mixed nuts

125g butter

75g raw sugar

75g brown sugar

3 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

125mls buttermilk

150g self raising flour

1/2teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Grease a 20cm or 22cm springform tin, depending on what size you want your cake. Mine was baked in a 20cm tin. Line the base with baking paper.

Peel and core one apple and half of the other one. Cut into thin slices.

To make the caramel, melt the sugar slowly in a heavy based saucepan. Once the caramel has melted and turned a toffee or tea colour, take off the heat and very carefully add the butter in pieces. Stir the caramel but be careful as it will splutter a bit. Once the butter is added beat the mix mixture well for a minute.

Pour the caramel over the baking paper lined base of the tin. Place the apple slices over the caramel in an overlapping circle.

For the cake, toast the mixed nuts in a frying pan for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. Cool for a few minutes, then place in a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped.

Add the butter and sugars to the food processor and mix until amalgamated. Add the remaining half apple cut into pieces, and all the other ingredients to the bowl. Process for a couple of minutes until everything is amalgamated. You made need to scrape the bowl down part way through the process.

Spoon the mixture on top of the apples and caramel.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Carefully turn out the cake. Remember this is an upsidedown cake so the bottom is the top! If the apple come out a bit higgledy piggledy, just rearrange as necessary. Don’t worry it’s meant to be a rustic cake!

Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake, the food of the gods or at least, the angels! A couple of years ago I had never made this beautiful cake, so I decided I needed to give it ago. I’ve made it a few times since, as a special occasion cake.

I’m re-visiting a previous post, just to show you that it’s quite possible to make this cake without too much experience, provided you follow a few simple guidelines, which I’ve listed below.

The result is of course, sublime!

Angel food cake is notable because it contains no fat and no egg yolks. In fact, it’s basically egg whites, sugar and flour, with cream of tartar. It also needs to be cooked in a special angel food cake tin.

I did a heap of research online to find out how to bake this cake. There are several things you need to do for cake success:

*Acquire an angel food cake tin for a start, and learn how to use the tin.

The tin should be 25cm/10in in diameter.

*Don’t grease the tin!

*Cool the cake upside down, the tin being supported on its own legs.

*Treat your egg whites in the mixture with care. Whisk the egg whites until aerated and foamy but not dry. After adding the sugar, whisk into soft but not stiff peaks. The egg white mixture will continue to expand in the oven. Stiff peaks may deflate in the oven.

My recipe is developed from very helpful instructions from the Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry, link here and Sally’s Baking Addiction, link here. Both food writers explain the science of the angel food cake clearly with understandable instructions.

Angel food cake is best served with cream and fruit or a sauce. It would be tricky to ice the cake as it’s so delicate, so it’s usually served plain.

I served this particular cake with lots of strawberries and raspberries, and berry whipped cream – whipped cream mixed with some berry jam and then piped onto the cake in swirls.

An angelic dusting of icing sugar makes this a truly heavenly cake to eat!

Ingredients 

Cake

125g plain flour

300g caster sugar

10 large free-range egg whites

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon salt

To serve

250mls whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons of any berry jam – strawberry, raspberry or blueberry, or a mixture

250g strawberries

250g raspberries

Icing sugar, to dust 

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced.  Make sure you have an oven shelf positioned in the lower third of the oven. 

Sift the flour and salt and add to a food processor. Pulse them with 100g of the caster sugar. This will aerate the dry ingredients to help create a light cake texture.

Whisk the 10 egg whites in an electric stand mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until foamy peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed, and add the remaining 200g of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks. You will end up with a big volume of meringue mixture.

Sprinkle over one third of the flour/sugar mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the next third of the mixture and then the last third. Be very careful to fold the flour/sugar mixture gently to keep as much air in the angel food mixture as possible.

Carefully spoon the mixture into an angel food cake tin. Do not grease the tin! There is a lot of mixture to get into the tin. Once in the tin, gently run a knife through the centre of the mixture to remove any pockets of air. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake should be pale brown and should have risen slightly. If the egg whites have been over beaten, or the mixture stirred too aggressively, the baked cake can sink.

Take out of the oven and turn the tin upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs on the bench top. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for at least an hour, two is ideal.

Once the cake is cool, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake tin, and also the inner edge around the centre insert, to remove it from the tin. 

Turn the tin over and invert onto a plate. Remove the centre insert, and very carefully run a palette knife between the cake and the base of the tin to separate the cake from the base.  Being very careful, turn the cake right side up and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cool, very delicately turn the cake right side up and place on a serving plate.

To serve:

Whip the cream until fairly stiff, but don’t overwhip or you’ll end up with butter! Put into a piping bag, and swirl your berry jam of choice into the cream. Pipe swirls or rosettes, if you’re being fancy, around the diameter of the cake.

Pile lots of strawberries and raspberries into the centre of the angel food cake.

Dust liberally with icing sugar over the whole cake.

Rosewater and Lime Cakes

I love making little cakes, and I like to make cakes in different sizes and shapes.

I’m a great collector of molds for cakes, and my collection is always growing… I picked up these little rose molds made by Nordicware some time ago. They are perfect for little cakes for afternoon tea or even for a dessert.

While they are very pretty the molds do need careful management in order that the cakes don’t stick. I use this method – I butter the molds well, sprinkle them with flour, and freeze them for 15 minutes or so. This seems to do the trick.

However you could make these cakes in any fancy molds or in a muffin pan.

Something else that I do with these cakes, is to use buttermilk. I find this gives the cakes a really lovely flavour and I think perhaps helps them to keep well.

And lime and rosewater is a beautiful combination!

Ingredients

Little Rose Cakes

125g butter

125g caster sugar

Zest of 1/2 lime

2 large free-range eggs

200g plan flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

125mls buttermilk

Icing

100g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon rosewater

Juice of 1/4 lime

A drop of pink food colouring

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. You can make this little cakes in any fancy molds you have on hand. I made these in Nordicware rose molds, but you could use any standard 12 cup muffin pan.

Butter and flour your molds – if you’re using any kind of fancy molds, you will need to butter and flour them very well as I mentioned in the introduction.

Cream the butter and sugar in electric mixer with the lime zest. Add the eggs and beat until well mixed. Add the plain flour and baking powder plus the buttermilk, and gently mix until just incorporated.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Cool the cakes in their molds or muffin pan for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the molds or muffin pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

In a bowl, mix together the icing sugar, rosewater, lime juice and pink food colouring and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

However you don’t want the icing too thick, as this is more of a glaze than an icing. You want the beautiful rose shapes of the molds to be visible!

Drizzle over the little rose cakes, serve as is for afternoon tea, or with a dollop of cream as a dessert.

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