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Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake

This is such a well known cake – I guess every cafe in Sydney makes a version and every other home baker makes it too.

Claudia Rosen wrote about it in “A Book of Middle Eastern Food”, first published in 1968. My family have been making it for almost as long, way before it became a cafe staple.

So I thought I’d post the recipe, with Claudia’s pared down instructions as well as my tips. Here’s a little bit of background from Claudia about the cake:

This is a Sephardic Jewish cake, brought to the Middle East by the Sephardic Jews when they migrated from Spain and Portugal in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It’s a cake that is served at Passover, as it’s made with ground almonds instead of flour.

This is a food processor cake, as I mix the whole thing in the food processor. Very easy and it saves on washing up!

Recently I had an online baking session where I made the cake with a friend, with some great results! I’ve included some photos of both of our cakes.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

Cake

2 large oranges

6 free-range eggs

250g caster sugar

250g ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

Glaze

200g icing sugar

Juice of half of an additional orange

Method

Put the 2 whole oranges into a saucepan large enough to hold the oranges. Cover completely with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cook the oranges for 1 1/2 hours or longer until soft.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees fan forced. Grease a 21cm or 22cm spring form pan. Line the base of the tin with baking paper.

When the oranges are cool, remove from the water. Cut in half and remove any pips. Put into a food processor and blitz to a rough purée. It’s ok if there are a few small lumps in the purée, you just don’t want any big lumps.

Beat the eggs with a fork to break them up. Add the beaten eggs to the food processor, with the sugar. Pulse until the eggs and sugar are really well combined. Add the ground almonds and baking powder and pulse to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Place the pan into the pre-heated oven and bake for 1 – 1/4 hours or until the cake is golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. This cake is very moist, so it will take at least 1 hour or longer to bake.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. After 10 minutes carefully run a palette knife round the edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake. When the cake is completely cool, remove from the pan and place on a serving plate.

To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar with enough of the orange juice to make an icing of dripping consistency. Using a palette knife, spread the glaze over the top of the cake. You could decorate with fresh flowers or herbs if you like.

Serve on its own, in large slices, for morning or afternoon tea or as a dessert. Lovely with whipped cream or Greek yoghurt.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

I know that most people have made a version of a lemon drizzle, but just because it is such a great and easy cake to make, I thought I would write up my version for anyone looking for a simple recipe.

It’s a great lockdown cake! And really easy as it’s an “all in one cake” – you just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

This week I had a Zoom cookalong during lockdown with a friend, and we made this cake, with great success. I have included photos in the post of both our lovely loafs.

While you can bake this in a round cake tin, we baked it into a loaf tin, which cuts into beautiful thick slices! If you haven’t got a loaf tin, bake it in a round cake tin, 18 cm or 20cm.

Tip: it’s important to have the butter really soft and the eggs at room temperature.

Ingredients

Cake

175g self-raising flour

175g caster sugar

175g very soft butter

3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of a lemon

3 tablespoons milk

Lemon Syrup

100g caster sugar

Juice of a lemon

Lemon Icing

Juice of 1/4 lemon

Enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing (about a cup)

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan or 180 degrees non fan.

Grease a 21 cm loaf tin with butter. Line the base with baking paper.

To make the cake, place all the cake ingredients (minus the milk) into a large bowl. Using electric beaters, mix the ingredients to a smooth batter with no lumps.

Add the milk to loosen the batter.

Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until the cake is brown on top and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes our clean. Remove from the oven.

While the cake is baking, make the lemon syrup. Heat the sugar and lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes until slightly thickened.

Once the cake is out of the oven, prick all over with a skewer. Pour the warm syrup all over the cake. The cake is still in the pan.

Once cool, turn the cake onto a board or plate. Turn right way up.

Serve as is or with an optional simple lemon icing.

To make icing, put the lemon juice in a small bowl and then add enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing. Using a palette knife, drip a thin layer of lemon icing over the cake.

Healthy Banana Bread

Everyone loves banana bread! But the banana bread you get in cafes is really banana cake – too sweet and too “cakey” in texture! I picked up this recipe from a television show Hemsley +Hemsley: Healthy and Delicious. The Helmsley sisters cook food that is natural and healthy – grain, gluten and refined sugar free.

This banana bread is made with coconut flour and coconut oil. The sweetness comes from the bananas and some treacle and golden syrup. It does have 3 eggs. The bread cuts into 12 slices easily, so I think that distributes the extra calories quite well!

It’s a much healthier bread than the usual sweet and cake-like cafe offerings.

As usual I made my version with a few tweaks. You could really add anything you like – nuts or seeds would be great, and honey would be a great sweetener too. The treacle in my version gave a lovely, malty flavour and rich dark colour.

And it’s a throw-in-the-food-processor recipe so it takes no time to prepare.

One more thing – it keeps forever! It doesn’t dry out, and keeps really moist.


Ingredients

350g or 3 medium size bananas, mashed

60g  coconut flour

1 /2 tbs cinnamon

1 pinch salt

3 free-range eggs

50g coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 tsp bi-carbonate of soda

1 tbs apple cider vineagr

1/2 tbs treacle

1/2 tbs golden syrup

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients (except the golden syrup) into a food processor and whizz until smooth.  Spoon into the prepared tin. Drizzle over the golden syrup onto the top of the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely before turning out of the tin.

I served my banana bread with cashew butter and fresh figs. The bread is quite sweet, so the cashew butter works well. Peanut, or any nut butter would be fine.

Blackberry and Apple Muffins

These little bakes are super delicious, Moist and tender and full of flavour. I do recommend making them as they are super easy and the mixture can be stored ahead and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

You can vary the fillings and flavours very easily as I regularly do, to create a new bake. The only ingredient you need to include is a grated apple or pear as this gives the muffins their moist texture.

I like a teaspoon of ground ginger in these muffins but you could substitute cinnamon or another spice according to taste.

This recipe gives enough mixture to make 6 medium to large muffins. Double it for 12.

I made these muffins in a quirky Silverwood muffin tin, available pretty easily in the UK, but if you’re in Australia like me, you will need to go to Blackwood Lane in Melbourne to buy them. An ordinary muffin tin works just as well.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

140g raw sugar

100g apples, unpeeled and grated

75ml vegetable oil

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

A handful of blackberries for the mixture plus extra for decoration

Glaze

2 or 3 puréed blackberries with a squeeze of lime or lemon and enough icing sugar to make a glaze.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees fan-forced 180 degrees non fan-forced.

Using an electric mixer and the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs until they are foamy. Then slowly pour in the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size.

Still using the whisk, mix in the grated apple and oil. With a metal spoon or spatula, gently fold in the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away, but leaving it in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight gives the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture.

When ready to bake, grease your muffin tin. If you want to use a fancy tin, my advice is to butter and flour very carefully to avoid the muffins sticking. I actually butter the molds, stick in the fridge for 10 minutes, then butter again, and finally flour.

If using a traditional muffin tin, after greasing you can line the holes with large squares of baking paper to encase the muffins.

Spoon in the muffin mixture to fill the cavities 3/4 full.

At this point pop several blackberries into each muffin, mixing in carefully. The blackberries are put in last to stop them breaking up too much.

Place the muffins in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, inserting a skewer into the muffins to check if they are cooked.

Remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Carefully remove from the tin, leaving the baking paper case on, if using, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the blackberry glaze, purée the blackberries and put through a sieve to remove the seeds. Mix with the lime or lemon juice and enough icing sugar to achieve the desired consistency.

Spoon the blackberry glaze over the muffins, allowing a little to drop down the sides.

Optional: a blackberry placed on top of each muffin for decoration.

Cinnamon Sugar Pastry Scrolls

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I’ve been baking with yeast or sourdough for so long that I’m in danger of forgetting that there are some pretty nice pastries to be made just using good old all purpose flour!

So here’s a recipe from the vault for deliciously soft and tender scrolls, with a cinnamon sugar filling, made with plain or all purpose flour. You can knock these up in half an hour – and doesn’t that beat all that time spent proving a batch of yeast based cinnamon pastries!

Of course you can fill these with a whole lot of different toppings too – dried fruit, chocolate or chopped nuts to name a few.

Ingredients

Dough
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/4 cups thickened cream

Filling
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/8 cup caster sugar and 1/8 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Icing
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Extra caster sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C non fan forced, 160 degrees C fan forced.
Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the cream until just combined. If the dough is a little dry, add a little more cream carefully.

Lightly flour a board and turn the mixture onto the board.
Knead the dough on the floured surface until only just incorporated.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle.

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Combine sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the dough rectangle with melted butter.
Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the dough.

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Roll the dough from the longest side to form a scroll. Cut into 10 fat slices or 16 smaller slices slices.

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Place slices onto a baking tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden (the bigger the slices, the longer the cooking time).
Place on a wire rack and dust with the additional cinnamon and sugar while still hot.
Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar and the milk in a small bowl.
Pour the icing over the scrolls.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Will keep for a couple of days but best eaten on the day or soon thereafter!

Vanilla and White Chocolate Fun Cake

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Here’s one from the vault – a simple vanilla and white chocolate cake pimped with some hundreds and thousands or sprinkles.

Usually these are just used as decoration on the icing on top of the cake, but I folded a few through the cake batter too – for a bit more fun!

This is a beautiful moist butter cake with a rich vanilla and white chocolate flavour. It is a colourful cake with hundreds and thousands baked into the mixture and sprinkled on top.

Lots of butter cream icing flavoured with vanilla paste makes it really yummy!

Butter Cake

Ingredients

250 gms butter softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

3 eggs

2 1/4 cups self-raising flour

3/4 cup milk

100 gms white chocolate, melted

A handful to taste of hundreds and thousands

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease and line a 22 cm round cake tin.

Beat butter, extract and sugar in a food processor until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour and milk in 2 batches.  Stir in melted white chocolate. Gently mix in hundreds and thousands.

Spread mixture into the tin. Bake about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of  cake comes out clean. Stand in cake tin until cake is cool. Turn out onto wire rack.

Butter Icing

3 tbls softened butter

Enough icing sugar to make a butter cream

1 tbs milk

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 tsps hundreds and thousands

Method

Cream butter with icing sugar, adding more icing sugar and the milk to make a smooth paste. Add vanilla paste.

The main thing is to add as much icing sugar sugar as is necessary to reach the required icing consistency that will be thick enough to stay on the cake but not too stiff.

Ice the cake, top and sides, and scatter hundreds and thousands on top of the cake.

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Sourdough Donut Top Muffins

 

Everyone is baking in the isolationist era of 2020, and many people are mad for sourdough bread. I’m all in favour – I have lots of recipes for sourdough on this blog and I would encourage anyone to have a go!

If you make sourdough, you inevitably end up with left over starter. There are lots of things you can make with it, from enriching ordinary yeast breads, to making crumpets and making muffins.

Here is a recipe for muffins using leftover starter. I blogged it last Easter, but actually, while it has Easter flavours, it would be delicious at any time, so here it is again.

These super simple muffins are full of fruit and spices, plus the added bonus that they are dipped in cinnamon sugar to give a donut crunch on the top!

I’ve called them sourdough muffins, because of the left over starter in the mix. It certainly adds to the flavour, but you can just as easily make lovely muffins without the sourdough starter. You don’t need to add anything extra to the mixture, if you leave out the starter, you will just have slightly less mix.

If you make the mixture with the starter you’ll get 15 or so muffins. Without the starter you would probably get 12 muffins. That’s using a regular muffin pan. So obviously if you make 15 you’ll need a second pan or you would need to use the pan twice.

However, this mixture keeps really well in the fridge for a couple of days, so you can bake as many or as few muffins as you like and keep the remaining mixture in the fridge!

Ingredients
1 cup sultanas and raisins
1/3 cup of rum/sherry/port or any liqueur
2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking sofa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup milk
2 large free-range eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup golden syrup

For the topping
20g melted butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Method
Soak the sultanas and raisins in the rum/sherry/port/liqueur for half an hour or more, if you have the time.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease the holes of a regular 12 cup muffin pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a second bowl, beat together the starter, if using, and the milk, eggs, oil, honey and golden syrup. Blend the wet ingredients with the dry, taking about 20 seconds. Gently stir in the fruit just until blended.
Fill the holes of the prepared pan two-thirds full. Or fill a little higher if you like muffins that have a “muffin top”!
Bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. I check after 15 minutes. Ovens are variable, so you need to keep checking for doneness.
When the muffins are clearly cooked, remove the muffin pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing them from the pan.
Put the melted butter in a small bowl, and mix the caster sugar and cinnamon on a plate. While the muffins are still warm, dip the top of each one in butter and then in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Great with your isolationist  morning tea or coffee!

Victoria Sponge

I love having morning and afternoon teas. It’s a great way to catch up with friends and I like the fact that I can prepare everything in advance, from cakes to scones to sandwiches.

A big favourite is my Victoria Sponge. It’s a delicious cake, and filled with jam or cream, it’s so more-ish. The recipe is based on one from James and Tom Morton’s “Shetland, Cooking on the Edge of the World”.

James describes in vivid detail his grandmother’s recipe. It really is a tribute to her baking skills and to recipes handed down through the family.

Now Queen Victoria would not be at all amused, as I fill my sponge with cream. Sacrilege I know, but I love the ooze of softly whipped cream on top of jam in between those delicious sponge layers!

Ingredients 

150g salted butter

150g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 medium free-range eggs

150g self raising flour 

1/2 tsp baking powder

Full fat milk, to loosen mixture

To fill and decorate

Strawberry or raspberry or mixed berry jam, homemade or store bought, 

200 mls cream, whipped 

Icing sugar or caster sugar, for the top of the cake

Fresh and crystallised rose petals 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease 2 18cm (7 inch) cake tins with butter, really really well.

Take a large piece baking or parchment paper, fold in half, and draw a circle around one of the tins. With the drawing as a guide, cut out 2 circles.  Line the base of each cake tin with the paper circles. 

Heat the butter in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top, to the point where half the butter is just melted, and the rest is soft. Put the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs into a mixing bowl, or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and whisk on medium speed until the mixture is very pale and thick, almost mousse like.

Sieve the flour and baking powder, and fold these in gently using a metal spoon, being careful not to overmix. When the mixture is nearly smooth, add a little milk, a dash at a time, to loosen the mixture “until it falls from the spoon in a swift wave”.

Spoon the mixture into the tins, gently smoothing flat. Put the cakes into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and the cakes bounce back when gently pressed.

Take out of the oven, and cool in the tins for 10 minutes. Run a butter or palette knife around the edge of the tins to free the sides. Carefully turn the cakes onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the baking/parchment paper. Leave to completely cool.

Place one cake, upside down on the plate or cake stand you intend to serve the cake on. Spread with the jam, and then spoon or pipe on the whipped cream. Place the other cake on top. 

Dust with icing or caster sugar, sieved over the cake. I like to serve the cake with fresh and crystallised rose petals.

For the crystallised rose petals:

Take one lovely rose, hopefully growing in your garden, and gently wash and dry each petal. Lightly beat an egg white, with a few drops of rosewater, in a small shallow bowl. Dip each petal in the beaten egg white, shaking off any excess. Put 75g caster sugar on a large plate. Dip each petal in the caster sugar, again shaking off the excess. Place the petals on baking paper on a tray, to dry, in a warm place. 

The petals are quite fragile, but will last a couple of days. They are very useful for decorating cakes, biscuits and tarts. And adding the rosewater intensifies the rose flavour!


Bread and Butter Pudding Traybake

I love bread, in particular sourdough. I also love traybakes, or slices as we know them in the Antipodes. I make a lot of bread, so it’s inevitable that I will have some leftover sourdough slices. What to do with leftover bread? I freeze it of course, but you can end up with too much bread in the freezer.

So I got to thinking about bread and butter pudding which uses leftover bread. And then I thought of making a traybake based on bread and butter pudding. Using sourdough, I thought the bread would absorb the liquid well, and make a traybake that you could cut into pieces. I also cooked it long and slow, to ensure that the custard set firm enough to slice. The sourdough worked well, the slightly tougher bread giving texture and firmness to the slice.

You serve this, like any traybake, at room temperature. But you could also warm through and serve more like a traditional bread and butter pudding. Either way, it’s nice with custard and caramel sauce!

Ingredients
250g sourdough bread
200ml full fat milk
150ml cream
2 free-range eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
70g raw sugar
Zest of a lemon (optional)
300g dried fruit – any fruit will do. I used sultanas, raisins and sour cherries.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
50g butter, melted
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

Method
Tear the bread into a large bowl and add the milk and cream. Mix with a spoon, and then scrunch through your fingers to completely break up the bread. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar and lemon zest if using. Stir in the fruit and spices. Mix well, then set aside for at least 15 mins in order for the bread to soak up the liquid.

Heat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Butter and line the base of a 18cm non-stick square cake tin. Stir the melted butter into the mixture, then pour into the tin. Scatter the flaked almonds over the mixture, and then top with demerara sugar.

Bake for 1 hour until set and golden. Cover with foil if the bake is browning too quickly. Cool in the tin, and when quite cold, turn out of the tin and remove the baking paper. Slice into squares. Serve at room temperature, or you could warm gently in a microwave.

They’re nice on their own or with the aforementioned custard or caramel sauce.

Oven Bannocks, Shetland Style

I’ll bake anything that involves flour. If it’s yeast based, all the better. And baking with your very own sourdough starter is the ultimate in satisfaction.

So I sometimes forget those lovely bakes that just involve self raising flour or plain flour and baking powder. They can be just as satisfying as yeast baking and are a lot quicker.

I recently acquired Shetland: Baking on the Edge of the World, by James Morton and his father Tom Morton. James is my favourite bread baker and I’ve been cooking his recipes since he first rose to prominence on The Great British Bake-off in 2012.

I was fascinated by his discussion of bannocks, both girdle cooked and oven baked. I’ve made both, but opted for the latter as they were easier to manage and produced a lighter product. I have served them up to friends who seemed to think they were scones… I kind of agree, although this might be an heretical thing to say!

Here’s James’ recipe for oven bannocks as I have made them. I’ve included the original quantities, which makes 16. I have actually made a half quantity each time I’ve produced them. This gives me at least 8 decent sized bannocks, more than enough for a morning or afternoon tea.

Ingredients

550g self-raising flour, plus extra for shaping
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon table salt
25g caster sugar
50g butter salted or unsalted (I prefer salted)
280ml buttermilk
150ml natural yoghurt
150ml full fat milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Very lightly sprinkle them with flour.

Into a large bowl put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar. Mix these roughly together with a wooden spoon. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles floury breadcrumbs.

Add the buttermilk, yoghurt and milk and mix together, then add to the flour using a wooden spoon, doing this quickly so as not to over mix. The mixture will be lumpy and quite wet and will need flour to handle it.

To make the bannocks, heavily flour a work surface, and scrape all the mixture out on top. Add more flour, and pat down the pile of mixture with your hands, into a rough square, about 2cm or ¾ inch thick.

Use a round cutter to cut out bannocks, or cut into rough squares with a knife, and then place the bannocks onto the prepared trays.

Bake the bannocks for about 12-15 minutes, or until light golden all over. You will need to watch them carefully, as there is a point at which they are golden and cooked, but still soft in the middle, and ready to come out of the oven.

Remove from the oven, and leave to cool a little before serving with lashings of butter or cream, and a good jam or conserve.

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