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Category Archives: Cakes

Nigella’s Italian Christmas Pudding Cake

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This is a fabulous cake I made as part of the recent Christmas and New Year festivities. It’s a relatively simple cake to make, as there’s no baking required rather an assembly of different luscious elements.

It’s a kind of “tiramisu meets trifle”! Layers of liqueur soaked panettone are interspersed with a mascarpone/ cream/egg/sugar/liqueur mixture with glacé fruit, chocolate and pistachios added.

I made a couple of alterations to the original recipe. I soaked the panettone in Cointreau as the specified Tuaca liqueur is hard to obtain.  As I was unable to source marrons glacés (candied chestnuts), I used glacé ginger instead.

The other recipe alteration was entirely accidental – the recipe asks for Marsala to flavour the mascarpone mixture. I inadvertently grabbed a bottle of coffee liqueur and used this instead. A happy accident as it turned out as the cake now had a real tiramisu flavour!

The link to Nigella’s recipe is here for the original version.

A couple of points. I think finely chopped chocolate is preferable to chocolate chips as these are a little too crunchy in the cake. The other thing to take note of, is not to overbeat the mixture when you add the mascarpone as mascarpone can easily curdle as I found out to my cost!

Here is the recipe as I made it.

Ingredients

625 grams panettone (approximately)
6 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 large free-range eggs at room temperature
75 gms caster sugar
500 gms mascarpone cheese
250 mls cream
125 mls coffee liqueur
75 gms glacé ginger
125 gms chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
100 gms pistachios chopped
Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate

Method

Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of a 22cm springform cake tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of  the orange liqueur over the panettone.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.

Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and double cream, then gradually whisk in the coffee liqueur and whisk until the mixture is thick and spreadable. If you stop every so often you can gauge how thick the mixture is and whether you are in danger of overbeating.

Remove 250ml or a cup of the mixture to a bowl, cover and put in the fridge, for the top layer of the cake.

Chop the glacé ginger into small pieces and then add to the rest of the mascarpone cream mixture.  Then add 100gms of the chocolate chips and 75gms of the chopped pistachios, and fold both into the mixture.

Spoon half of the mixture on top of the panettone layer in the cake tin. Put another third of the panettone slices over the cream filling, again making sure there are no gaps. Sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Spoon the other half of the cream mixture onto to the panettone. Top with the final layer of panettone, leaving no gaps and sprinkle over the last 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Cover the cake tightly with clingfilm, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge for at least overnight.

To serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould it and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Definitely don’t try to lift the cake off the base, as the cake is too soft and moist to remove.

Scatter the top of the cake with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and the pomegranate seeds. The cake will look a little rustic around the sides but this is part of its charm!

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Apricot Almond Traybake

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Stone fruit is just coming into season in Sydney at the start of summer.  While peaches and nectarines are still a little firm, apricots are good eating.

The traybake is based on a recipe from Gabriel Gate from an SBS program, see here for the original. This is an ultra simple cake, made in a square tin in a shallow layer so that you end up with a traybake rather than a cake. I think it works quite well in this form.  I also made the whole cake in food processor, making it really simple.

Ingredients 

5 ripe apricots
150 g butter
100 g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
50 g honey
120 g ground almonds
100 g self-raising flour
20 g flaked almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced. Grease and line with baking paper a 24 cm square cake tin. Halve the apricots and remove stones.

Cream the butter and caster sugar in the food processor. Add the eggs and process till well mixed. Stir in the honey and then the ground almond and flour.

Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and arrange the apricot halves on top. Sprinkle with flaked almonds in the spaces between the apricots.

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Bake the cake in the preheated oven for  30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.  When cool, gently lift the whole traybake out of the tin using the baking paper.

Brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam to glaze and cut into squares to serve.

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Middle Eastern Rosewater and Yoghurt Cakes

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A fabulously easy recipe which makes lovely little Bundt cakes or one large one.

I was first introduced to this recipe in a few years back,  when a director colleague made them to celebrate her production of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.

The link to the original recipe from the taste website is here.

I can testify as to how easy they really are! I have recently broken my wrist, and I was able to make these cakes one-handed, that’s how easy they are! The original recipe doesn’t specify a food processor, but I made mine in a food processor to simplify the recipe, and the result was perfectly fine.

The recipe makes one large Bundt cake or 8 smaller Bundt cakes; you would get 10 -12 cup cakes from the recipe too.

Ingredients
1 cup (250ml) canola oil
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (280g) natural yoghurt
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbs rosewater
1 cup (150g) icing sugar, sifted
1-2 drops pink food colouring
Sugared rose petals for decoration or a little icing sugar

Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour eight 1-cup (250ml) Bundt moulds or one large Bundt mould.

Place the oil, caster sugar and eggs in a bowl. Using electric beaters, beat until well combined. Stir in yoghurt, followed by flour, then stir in half the rosewater.
Put the mixture into the mould/s.

Bake for 30-35 minutes for the smaller cakes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. For the larger cake, you will need 10 minutes longer. Check with a skewer for “doneness” after 35 minutes.

Cool slightly in moulds, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

For icing, place icing sugar in a bowl with remaining rosewater and colouring. Use a wooden spoon to gradually stir in enough warm water (about 2-3 tsp), to make a smooth, flowing icing.

Turn out cooled cake/s, then drizzle with icing and decorate with sugared rose petals and fresh flowers. Or just dust with a little icing sugar.

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Strawberry Scone Cake

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This is a scone recipe that’s pretty well known, using lemonade and cream.

I’m not completely convinced that this combination is better than sugar and butter. Anyway, I gave this recipe a go. It’s from The Australian Women’s Weekly Love to Bake. They call it “Strawberry Bliss Scones”, but I think it’s more of a scone cake. It’s filled with fresh strawberries and white chocolate.

Here’s the recipe with a few tweaks. I took the oven temperature down to 200 degrees C from the recommended 220 degrees C which I thought was too hot.

Ingredients

525g self-raising flour
150g white chocolate, cut into 5mm pieces
250m chilled lemonade
1 cup cream
150g strawberries, cut into 5mm pieces
1 tbls icing sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

Sift flour into a large bowl and mix in chocolate. Combine lemonade and cream in a jug and pour  over the flour mixture.

Using a knife, cut liquid through flour mixture until it starts to clump. Add strawberries and continue to combine until the mixture comes together forming a dough. Be careful not to over work or the dough will be tough.

Divide dough in half. Shape one half into an 18cm round on 1 tray with floured hands. Mark the round into 4 wedges, using the back of a floured knife. Repeat with the remaining dough and tray.

Bake scone cakes for 25 minutes, swapping trays on shelves halfway through cooking time, or until tops are golden brown.

Dust scones with sifted icing sugar. Serve in wedges as is or with more cream!

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Lemon and Ricotta Cake

I recently had a great ricotta cake at the Carriageworks Farmers Market – a fantastic fresh produce market in Eveleigh, in Sydney. The cake had a great texture and was quite delicious.

So  I decided to make a ricotta cake with a lemon theme – lemon zest and juice in the cake, and also lemon thyme, my all time favourite herb!

The cake was beautifully moist, the ricotta really helping out here. Adding lashings of buttercream icing and the result was complete lemon lusciousness!

Ingredients

Cake

150g butter

200g caster sugar

3 free range eggs

200g self raising flour

1 tsp baking flour

200g ricotta

Juice of half a lemon

Zest of a whole lemon

A few sprigs of lemon thyme + extra to decorate

Icing

100g softened butter

200g icing sugar

Juice of a lemon

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan forced. Grease a 20cm springform tin (or 22cm tin for a slightly flatter cake), and line the bottom with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until well mixed and light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure to mix until the eggs are well incorporated.

Fold in the self raising flour and baking powder. Fold in the ricotta until incorporated, but being careful to not mix with too a heavy hand. Mix in the lemon juice and zest and the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme.

Spoon into the prepared tin, and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing the outer ring of the tin and carefully sliding off the base.

For the icing, cream the butter and icing sugar with enough of the lemon juice to make a lovely lemony  frosting.

Liberslly ice the cake with a thick layer of butter cream. Scatter some thyme sprigs on top for decoration. I added some candied lemon slices, but in hindsight the cake doesn’t really need them!

 

 

 


 

Blood Orange Mini Cakes

This is the “mini” cake version of a larger blood orange cake I make. See here for the recipe. I thought that little cakes might be good for an afternoon tea, so I have adapted the recipe to make lovely little jewel bright cakes which are just delicious. Nothing beats the flavour and colour of blood oranges!

Ingredients

Candied orange slices

2 blood oranges
200g caster sugar

Cakes

2 blood oranges
200g  caster sugar
125g very soft butter
2 free range eggs
½ tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

Method

Candied Blood Oranges
Finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.
Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Cakes
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
Grease a mini cake tin which has removeable bottoms. Line the bases with circles of baking paper. If you don’t have a tin with removeable bottoms, you could use an ordinary muffin tin, but turning out the mini cakes will be tricky, as you need to keep the candied orange slices intact.
Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture.
Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled! Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled!
Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.
Place the candied orange slices on the paper bases in the tin, as artistically as possible, remembering, as this is an upside down cake, that the bottoms become the top!
Place the batter over the top of the slices. Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. As these cakes are small, they may need a little less cooking, but they are also quite moist, so may need the allotted time. My advice is check after 15 minutes and keep checking thereafter.
Remove from the oven once cooked and cool the tin on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool (not cold), carefully remove each mini cake from the mold.  Even more carefully, take off the bases and peel away the baking paper.
Brush the mini cakes with the blood orange syrup and serve.

Clementine Layer Cake with Raspberry Meringue Buttercream


Here is a quirky celebration cake, or if you’re looking for a cake to make that requires a few cake decorating skills. Nothing too challenging, I assure you!

I created this one lazy Saturday, with nothing more in mind than I wanted to make a cake that looked good and on which I could try out a few new skills in icing and decorating. As I’m the classic rustic baker, this cake is quite achievable for anyone with some basic skills! I was inspired by a recent trip to Saga in Enmore, in Sydney’s inner west where the legendary Andy Bowdy makes awesome cakes! Check out the website here!

You could use all or just some of my ideas, and tailor make the cake to suit your own creativity.

And by the way, for us Aussies, who only recently have (limited) access to clementines, mandarins would be great too!

The full description of the cake is this: Clementine and Almond Cake with Raspberry Meringue Buttercream, White Chocolate Crumb, White Chocolate Passionfruit Drizzle, Toffee Fruit.  The cake itself is based on that wonderful, and now quite universal, orange almond cake from Claudia Roden, first seen in A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.

I have included the quantities for a full size cake mixture. You probably won’t need the entire mixture – however if your cake is a baked in tins larger than the ones I’ve used (10cm/4in), you may need the whole lot. If you do have some mixture left over, just bake it in muffins molds for some seriously moist and delicious little cakes!

The same with the meringue buttercream. I have given quantities enough for a large amount of frosting. You can make less, or keep the remaining buttercream for another bake.

So here’s my recipe for the cake and its assembly.

Ingredients

Clementine Cake
3 clementines skin on (or 3 mandarins)
4 free-range eggs
250g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
250g ground almonds

Raspberry Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freeze dried raspberry powder or enough to make a deep pink buttercream

White Chocolate Crumb
100g white chocolate
1 tablespoon passionfruit fondant creme* or a few drops good quality yellow food colouring

White Chocolate Passionfruit Drizzle or Dribble!
100g white chocolate
1 tablespoon passionfruit fondant creme* or a few drops yellow food colouring
A few drops milk

Toffee Fruit
3 tablespoons caster sugar
A few clementine segments and whole strawberries

Method

Cake

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 170 degrees C non fan forced. Butter 3 small cake tins well, and line the bases with a circle of baking paper – I used tins 10cm/4in in diameter.
Place clementines in a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, cool and chop (discard seeds), then blitz in a food processor. Add the eggs and sugar and process until combined. Add the baking powder and ground almonds and blitz making sure  everything is thoroughly mixed. The mixture is quite a wet one, so you can, if you’re nervous add 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour to make the batter a little less runny.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins.
Bake for up to an hour, or until until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. If the cakes are still wet, bake for longer.  However, the cakes may take less than the hour – check at the 40 minute mark for “doneness”.
Cool the cakes before carefully turning out of the tins, removing the baking paper.

Raspberry Meringue Buttercream

Place the egg whites and sugar into a metal bowl and set over a saucepan filled with about 5 cms of simmering water.
Heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 60 degrees C.  Transfer the heated egg whites and sugar to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Mix at high speed until they have reached their maximum volume, 5 to 10 minutes.

Mix on medium or medium-high speed while pinching off small pieces of butter and throwing them in. Mix in vanilla. Continue beating for about 5 minutes until the meringue and butter mixture is completely amalgamated, thick and of icing consistency. Carefully fold in the freeze dried raspberry powder.

White Chocolate Crumb

This method is tricky and possibly controversial! There are no doubt recipes which tell you how to bake white chocolate in the oven until it caramelizes and goes crumbly. I can’t guarantee the success of my method – a lot will depend on the power of your microwave and you own baking intuition in judging timings.
Essentially, you are cooking the white chocolate after it has melted, causing it to seize.
My method is pretty easy – stick the white chocolate in pieces  in the microwave (not on high- medium or even lower), and carefully melt. Then add the fondant creme or yellow food colouring mixing it through the warm chocolate. It will start to seize up. If it’s crumbly enough for you, then it’s done. If you want a more distinct crumb, place the chocolate back in the microwave on a low heat and cook for longer. I would advise going in 20 second bursts until you are satisfied with the crumb texture.

White Chocolate Drizzle

This needs to be made when you are ready to apply the drizzle/dribble to the cake.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, taking care that the bowl does not touch the water. Or live dangerously as I did and melt the white chocolate in the microwave on a low heat setting.
Once melted, add the  fondant creme or yellow food colouring. As with the white chocolate crumb, the chocolate will probably seize. Take off  the heat and add a few drops of milk and beat vigorously until the mixture is of drizzling consistency. It comes back pretty well.

Toffee Fruit

Put the caster sugar in a small frying pan over a medium heat and dissolve the sugar, being careful not to stir the sugar. Once the melted sugar has hit that beautiful toffee/tea colour, remove from the heat, and carefully pour most of the toffee over the clementine segments and strawberries on the baking paper. Pour the last bit of the liquid toffee onto the baking paper so that you can break it up into shards once cold.

Assembly

Carefully cut the 3 cakes horizontally in half, to create 6 layers. This can be quite tricky as this cake is incredibly moist and can break easily.Work out which of the 6 layers are good, and which  you want to disguise. Pick the best for the top layer, a sturdy one for the bottom layer, and all the rest in between.
Place the bottom layer on a cake plate or cake board. Ice with the meringue buttercream, again being careful  as the cake is fragile. Repeat with the other layers, making the frosting on the top nice and thick. Ice the sides of the cake. A good palette knife will help with achieving a smooth texture.

Now for the decoration! This is where you can use your creative license! I dribbled the white chocolate drizzle down the sides of the cake, scattered the white chocolate crumb over the cake and around the base, placed the toffee fruit on and around the cake, and lastly decorated the cake with the toffee shards.
But absolutely you can have fun with this cake and do whatever you like to make your cake a quirky and visually spectacular creation!

*My local kitchen store stocks a range of Roberts Fondant Cremes see here for the link to the Passionfruit one I used in the recipe. However you can easily get the yellow effect by just using yellow food colouring, and don’t worry about the passionfruit flavour.

 

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