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Chocolate Lovers’ Chocolate Cake

I don’t often make chocolate cake, and I’m not really sure why. Because really, a chocolate cake is a wonderful thing – a rich, moist, chocolatey cake that can go from morning tea through lunch and on to afternoon tea, and end up as a dessert at dinner time!

A former work colleague gave me this recipe a while back – thank you Pauline – and I’ve been waiting for a suitable time to make it.

Well that time came today. A friend was having a birthday and I wanted to bake a cake for her. We’re in lockdown in Sydney, and sometimes we need a bit of cheering up. So I made this cake for Margaret.

And just to see what the cake was like, I made a little sample cake just for me!

It’s so easy! Another one bowl, all in one mix. The cake is rich, dark and moist. Smother the cake with lots of beautiful chocolate buttercream, and voila! A lovely looking and tasting cake!

Ingredients

Cake

200g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

65g cocoa

3 free-range eggs

250g sugar

125g very soft butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

250 ml milk

Chocolate Buttercream

100g very soft butter

200g icing sugar

25g cocoa

1 tablespoon boiling water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter a 20cm 9 inch round cake tin or a 20cm 9 inch square tin. Line the base of the tin with baking paper.

Put all the cake ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer. On low speed, beat all the ingredients until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing the mixture into the tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a skewer into the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the chocolate buttercream, cream the soft butter, icing sugar, cocoa and boiling water until the buttercream is soft and easy to spread on the cake. You can do this by hand or you can use an electric mixer.

Once cool, generously spread the chocolate buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.

You can decorate with anything you like – I used silver almonds, rose petal sweets and fresh flowers.

Serve on its own or with a dollop of cream as a dessert!

Strawberry and Raspberry Naked Layer Cake

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The occasion was the visit to Sydney of Quirky Nieces 1 and 3. So afternoon tea was in order. I am fascinated by naked cakes, and the technique of “less is more”.  I love the chance to practise naked icing. I still need lots of practice, as my icing is more rustic than naked!

The cake I created was Strawberry and Raspberry Naked Layer Cake. Three layers of vanilla butter cake, sandwiched with berry jam, fresh strawberries and raspberry fondant buttercream. The cake was “naked” iced with more raspberry fondant buttercream and then decorated.

Not that difficult either! I made the vanilla cake with the one bowl method. The buttercream was made with the addition of raspberry fondant creme, readily obtainable at cake making supply stores. It’s actually used to make the filling for homemade chocolates, but microwaved carefully, can be added to buttercream for flavour and colour. Icing and decorating can take as little or long as you like, depending on how fancy you want to go.

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Ingredients

250g self-raising flour

250g caster sugar

250g butter

4 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tblsp milk

2 tbls berry jam (I used a tablespoon each of strawberry and raspberry jams)

A dozen or so fresh strawberries cut into thirds.

Fresh strawberries, edible gold glitter, crystallized rose petals,  more raspberry fondant creme, flowers, to decorate

Raspberry Fondant Buttercream Icing

250g butter, softened

500g icing sugar, sifted

1 tblsp raspberry fondant creme (If you can’t source this just use red food colour and raspberry essence or just the food colour)

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan. Grease 3 x 18cm (7 inch) cake tins.

Put all the ingredients except the vanilla extract and milk in to the bowl of an electric mixer. I uses my wonderful KitchenAid. (And a big thank you to Dr Rosemary for my beautiful new glass mixing bowl!) Mix for about a minute or so until everything is well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and milk and beat for a further 20 seconds or until well combined.

Spoon mixture into the 3 tins  filling the tins equally.

Place the tins in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cakes are golden on top, and spring back when touched.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes or so on wire racks. When cool, carefully turn out the cakes.

To make raspberry fondant buttercream icing, with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined and soft and creamy. You may need to add a drop or two of milk if the mixture is too stiff. Gently microwave the raspberry fondant creme on low until it soft and liquid and add it to the buttercream. Don’t overheat the fondant as it will boil and turn into red toffee!  I’ve been there…

Spread the bottom layer with buttercream, then top with jam and cut strawberries. Place the next layer on top, and repeat the buttercream, jam and strawberry layers. Place the last cake layer on top. Roughly ice the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the buttercream using a palette knife. When you get to the sides, occasionally dip the palette knife into cold water as you ice to remove some of the thicker icing and to create the “naked icing” effect.  The idea is that the top of the cake is well iced and that the side sides are stripped back for a rustic look.

Decorate with anything you fancy – I decorated with the bits and pieces mentioned in Ingredients above.

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Coffee and Walnut Cake

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Here is a very easy recipe for a coffee and walnut cake. It’s almost  a “one bowl” cake  –  you only need to add the coffee and walnuts  to the basic mix at the end. Cook as two layers and fill and ice with buttercream as I did, or make one larger cake, or you could even make twelve cupcakes! It’s such a versatile recipe.

Ingredients

Cake

50g ground almonds

125g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tsps instant coffee powder

2 tbls milk

50g chopped walnuts + a few extra for decorating

Buttercream Icing

125g butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

2 tsp instant coffee

1 tbls milk

Method

The Cakes

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Generously butter two 18cm (7″) cake tins.

Put all the ingredients except the milk, coffee and walnuts into an electric mixer and mix until smooth and well incorporated. Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk, and add together with the chopped walnuts into the mixture.

Divide the batter equally between the two tins.  Place the tins in the oven and bake for 25- 30 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven, leave in the tins for 5 minutes before carefully turning out of the tins to cool on a wire rack.

Buttercream Icing

In a food processor, cream together the butter and icing sugar until light an fluffy. Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk. Add this mixture to the icing, process until light and creamy.

To assemble

When cakes are completely cool, spread half of the buttercream icing on the bottom layer, and top with the second layer.

Roughly ice the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the buttercream using a palette knife. When you get to the sides, occasionally dip the palette knife into cold water as you ice to remove some of the thicker icing and to create the “naked icing” effect.  The idea is that the top of the cake is well iced and that the side sides are stripped back for a rustic look.  I’m still mastering the naked icing effect! Place the reserved walnuts on the top of the cake for decoration, or add a flower or two.

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Lemon, Yoghurt and White Chocolate Cake

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I found this this lovely cake on the great blog lepiratelife.com. I have tweaked the recipe a little.

Ingredients

1/3 cup melted butter (approximately 75 grams)
1 cup sugar
1 cup full fat yoghurt
2 lemons – zest of both, juice of 1
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
200 grams white chocolate, melted
Additional lemon, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup sugar (to sprinkle on top)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Place the melted butter, sugar, yoghurt, zest, juice, eggs and vanilla paste in a food processor. Whiz until well combined.

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Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Process until smooth. Pour in the melted white chocolate and mix until combined and velvety.

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Pour into a 24cm spring form cake tin lined with baking paper and arrange the lemon slices on the top of the batter. Sprinkle with half of the remaining sugar.

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Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cover with foil if it starts to brown too much during the baking time.

Remove from the oven, and sprinkle the remaining sugar – or less to taste – over the cake, particularly over the lemons.

NB I usually bake a little baby cake with the main mixture so that I can “quality test” the product straight out of the oven or at room temperature. I have included a photo of the test cake baked in a friand mould.

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Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, vanilla mascarpone or good vanilla bean ice cream.

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The cook’s helper!

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