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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

June, 2012

29Jun 12

Pear and Nut Bread

Pear and Nut BreadThis sweet and spicy pear and nut bread makes for a great Christmas cake and also works very well as a carry-along snack for school or a car-trip out in the country.  It also goes great with a nice warm cup of tea, especially Earl Grey or English Breakfast.  I like to use hazelnuts, but walnuts also work very well. (For a chocolaty treat, try these poached pears with a hot white chocolate liqueur sauce.)

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears, peeled and cored
  • 110g butter, softened
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 240g cake flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 250g seedless raisins
  • 250g chopped hazelnuts

 

Instructions:

  1. Cut two of the peeled and cored pears into 1.5cm slices.
  2. Place the pears in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, uncovered over high heat, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
  3. Purée the cooked pears in a food processor until they attain the consistency of applesauce. You should have about 250ml. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  5. Grease and flour a 25 x 15 x 7 centimetre loaf pan, or line with baking parchment. Set aside.
  6. In an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until light in colour.
  7. Add the pear purée and vanilla extract and mix just until blended.
  8. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  9. On low speed, gradually add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix just until blended.
  10.  Dice the two remaining pears and stir into the batter along with the raisins and nuts.
  11.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  12.  Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes.
  13.  Carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue to cool on the wire cooling rack. Remove and discard the parchment.
  14.  Serve slightly warm or wrap in foil and store at room temperature.

 

Prep Time:  25 minutes

Cooking Time:  60 minutes

Serves:  10

Difficulty:  Medium

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26Jun 12

Basic Sponge Cake

Basic Sponge cakeThis is a basic sponge cake recipe which can be eaten on its own with a cup of tea or topped with fresh fruit. It freezes very well, so I like to have some around to take out as a quick base for any sponge cake recipe when time is of the essence.

As it’s just a plain sponge cake, it really goes well with just about any topping or frosting you can think of, so use your imagination and get creative!  Drizzle some dark chocolate ganache over the top, smother it in whipped cream, or pour a cappuccino on it. The possibilities are endless!

If you decide to freeze it, wrap it in aluminium foil and then clingfilm for best results.

Ingredients:

  • 7 egg whites at room temperature
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 145g cake flour
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 65ml cold water

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 165ºC.
  2. In an electric mixer with a wire whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, 50g of the granulated sugar, the cream of tartar and the salt. Start on medium speed, then use high speed until very stiff peaks form, around 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, 250g of the sugar and the vanilla extract with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until light in colour, around 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the cake flour and water to the egg mixture alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until blended.
  5. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites with a rubber spatula and blend well.
  6. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 25cm circular cake pan. Make sure you spread the batter evenly.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  8. Remove pan from the oven and invert to cool the cake for about 1 hour.
  9. When the sponge is cool, carefully remove it from the pan. Use a sharp knife to loosen the outside of the cake from the sides of the pan.

 

Prep Time:  25 minutes

Cooking Time:  65 minutes

Serves:  15

Difficulty:  Medium

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21Jun 12

Almond and Chestnut Cake

Almond and Chestnut CakeA traditional Czech dessert, this almond and chestnut cake (called Dort Kastanovy in the Czech Republic) is very hearty and rich.  Chestnuts are not easy to find most of the year except in the autumn, so this is a great seasonal recipe to keep in mind when the leaves start turning colour. I really like the combination of chestnuts and almonds, but if you prefer just almonds, I recommend this almond cake with orchard fruits recipe.

 

Ingredients:

  • 500g chestnuts, washed, shells and skins left on
  • 500ml whole milk
  • 70g butter, softened
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs, yolks separated from whites, whites stiffly beaten
  • 175ml almonds, blanched, peeled and ground
  • 500ml double cream, whipped

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Butter a 20cm spring-form cake pan and dust with breadcrumbs.
  3. Make an incision on the rounded sides of the chestnuts with a sharp knife and roast them on a baking tray in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes to loosen the shells and skins.
  4. Remove from the oven and peel, then cook them on the stovetop in the milk for about 30 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat of the oven to 150ºC.
  6. Set aside 50ml of the chestnuts and purée the rest through a strainer while they’re still hot.  Add any liquid that wasn’t absorbed during cooking.
  7. To prepare the cake, cream the butter very well with the granulated sugar and the egg yolks.
  8. Mix in the ground almonds and the puréed chestnuts.
  9. Fold in the egg whites.
  10.  Pour the batter into the buttered and dusted spring-form pan and bake in the 150ºC oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  11.  Cool the cake in its pan for about 10 minutes, then remove the rim.  Run a spatula or knife under the cake to loosen it and then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack.
  12. When it has cooled, split the cake into two layers.
  13. Fill and cove the cake with the whipped double cream.
  14.  Shred the remaining chestnuts (or leave whole according to preference) and sprinkle them over the top.
  15. Slice and serve.

Prep Time:  45 minutes

Cooking Time:  60 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty:  Medium

 

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20Jun 12

Almond Pound Cake with Fresh Strawberries

Almond Pound Cake with Fresh StrawberriesA bit of a twist on the classic pound cake recipe, this almond pound cake with fresh strawberries is the perfect treat for a summer afternoon.  I like to use brown sugar to sweeten the strawberries as I find it gives them a more nuanced flavour, but if you don’t like the taste, you can substitute normal white granulated sugar.  In fact, if the berries are sweet enough, you can omit the sugar altogether for a slightly more healthy version. (Also try strawberries with Grana Padano and honey.)

 

Ingredients:

  • 165g butter, softened
  • 190g cake flour
  • 180ml almond paste
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 180ml milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 500g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 150ml double cream

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour a 25cm x 15cm x 7cm loaf pan, or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter on medium speed in an electric mixer. Add the almond paste and continue mixing until smooth.
  4. Gradually add sugar and beat until light in colour.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Add the vanilla extract.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add this mixture to the batter alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just blended.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a bit of crumb on it.
  10.  While the cake is baking, prepare the strawberries: Mix the hulled and sliced strawberries with the brown sugar, stirring well to coat all the berries with sugar.  Set aside for at least 10 minutes so that the berries release their juice.
  11.  Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes.
  12.  Carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue cooling on the wire cooling rack.
  13.  When the cake has cooled, cut into slices and top with a couple of tablespoons of the strawberry and brown sugar mixture.
  14.  Drizzle a little double cream over the top and serve.

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  55 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty:  Easy

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16Jun 12

Banana and Blueberry Cake

Banana and Blueberry CakeThis banana and blueberry cake is so full of fruity goodness that I find it hard to resist snacking on every time I go into the kitchen, although I generally prefer to eat it at breakfast along with a cup of coffee or tea.  Another fruity option in the morning is this berry messy breakfast.

If you want to make it a tad heartier and healthier, try replacing a bit of the flour with bran or rolled oats.  The bananas should be very ripe for best results, but don’t worry too much as long as they’re not still green.  The recipe calls for fresh blueberries, but the frozen ones will work just as well, and you can hardly notice the difference.

Ingredients:

  • 120g butter, softened
  • 400g plus 1tblsp granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g bananas, mashed (about 2 small sized bananas)
  • 375g plus 1tbsp flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 500g fresh  blueberries

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour a 24cm fluted Bundt pan and set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter.
  4. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to mix.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Add the mashed bananas and mix well.
  7. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just blended and smooth.
  9. In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar to coat.
  10.  Stir coated blueberries into the batter and pour into the prepared pan.
  11.  Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a bit of crumb on it.
  12.  Remove the cake from the oven and place on wire cooling rack.
  13.  Cool the cake in its pan for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and continue to cool, right side up, on the cooling rack.
  14.  When the cake has completely cooled, slice and serve.

 

 

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  65 minutes

Serves:  10-12

Difficulty:  Medium

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14Jun 12

Apricot and Pecan Cake

Apricot and Pecan CakeThis apricot and pecan cake is a dense butter cake that updates the classic fruitcake for modern times.  As with most cakes containing fruit and/or nuts, be sure to coat the apricots and pecans with flour before adding them to the batter.  This well help to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake during baking. (Also try this chocolate and apricot wrap cake.)

 

Ingredients:

  • 185g pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 185g dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 170g cake flour
  • 110g butter, softened
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 185ml sour cream
  • Icing sugar for dusting

 

Glaze:

  • 60ml dark rum
  • 120ml orange juice

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour a 25cm x 15cm x 7cm loaf pan or line it with baking parchment.  Set aside.
  3. Combine nuts and apricots in a small bowl and toss them with 3 tablespoons of the flour, making sure to coat them well.  Set aside.
  4. In an electric mixer set on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light in colour.
  5. Add vanilla extract and mix well.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure proper mixing.
  7. Combine the flour and the baking soda. Add this mixture to the butter mixture gradually, at low speed, alternating with the sour cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix just until blended.
  8. Stir in the nuts and apricots and blend well.
  9.  Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  10.  Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  11.  Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.
  12.  In a small cup, mix together the rum and orange juice and pour evenly over the hot cake.
  13. Cool the cake in its pan for 15 to 20 minutes and then remove from the pan and continue cooling on the wire rack until cool.
  14. Remove and discard baking parchment.
  15.  Dust with icing sugar, slice and serve.  Freeze any leftovers.

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  55 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty:  Medium

 

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11Jun 12

Sour Cream and Cinnamon Cake

Sour cream and cinnamon cakeThis sour cream and cinnamon cake recipe is so good I recommend you at least double the recipe as you’re sure to want more when it’s finished, which will be sooner than you think!  This is of course partly due to the fact that it really is delicious, but also because the whole house smells fantastic from the cinnamon while it’s baking. Your mouth starts to water and your tummy to rumble well before it comes out of the oven!

Since almonds are a principal ingredient in this recipe, you might want to try almond ice cream to go along with it!

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 125g peeled roasted almonds, finely chopped

 

For the sponge:

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 250ml sour cream
  • 1tsp almond extract
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 285g cake flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1/2tsp salt

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour a 25cm tube pan, or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. To make the filling, combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon and almonds in a small bowl.  Mix well and set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light in colour.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg addition.
  6. Add the sour cream, almond and vanilla extracts and blend well.
  7. With the electric mixer set on low speed, gradually add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until blended.
  8. Spread half the batter on the bottom of the prepared tube pan. Sprinkle the batter with three quarters of the almond filling mixture.
  9. Spread the remaining batter on top of the filling.
  10.  Sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining almond filling.
  11.  Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Cool the cake in its pan for 10 to 15minutes.
  13. Carefully remove cake from the pan and continue cooling on the wire rack. Remove and discard the baking parchment when cool.
  14.  Slice and serve warm, or cool completely and wrap in aluminium foil. Store at room temperature. 

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  60 minutes

Serves:  10

Difficulty:  Medium

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08Jun 12

Apricot Squares

Apricot SquaresI love making cakes; they’re my favourite food bar-none, but sometimes for a party it just seems like too much bother to have to serve it on plates with a fork and knife, as well as all the extra washing-up this means later on.  So for my latest party, I decided to make squares instead, as they can be served on a napkin and eaten with your fingers if need be.  They’re not any more difficult to make than a regular cake, but just as tasty!

As an optional “extra,” you can also concoct an orange icing to top it off. Depending on your sweet tooth (or that of your guests), you can give it a try. With the icing, the mix of apricots, almonds and orange in these apricot squares is truly astounding, as I’m sure my guests would attest to!

For those who like to combine fruit with chocolate, I recommend this chocolate and apricot wrap cake.

Ingredients:

For the squares:

  • 160ml dried apricots
  • 114g butter
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 165g sifted flour
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 125ml chopped almonds
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs

For the icing:

  • 75g butter, softened
  • 190g icing sugar
  • 40ml orange juice
  • 1/2tsp fine orange zest

Instructions:

For the squares:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Butter and flour a 20cm square baking pan.
  3. Rinse the apricots, cover with water in a small pot and boil for ten minutes.
  4. Drain off the water, let cool and then chop up the apricots.
  5. Mix the butter, sugar and 125g of sifted flour until a crumbly mixture is formed.
  6. Pack this mixture into the bottom of the square pan and bake for 25 minutes or until the top turns light brown.
  7. Sift the remaining 40g of flour together with the salt and baking powder.
  8. In a separate bowl, beat the brown sugar into the eggs and then add the flour mixture a third at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  9. Add the apricots, almonds and vanilla and mix well.
  10. Spread this mixture over the already baked layer.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  12. Let cool.

For the icing:

  1. Mix all the ingredients well, either by hand or with an electric mixer.
  2. If the icing is too runny, add more icing sugar.  If it’s too thick, add more orange juice.
  3. Spread the icing over the cooled apricot square.
  4. Cut into squares and serve.

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  65 minutes

Serves:  8-10

Difficulty:  Medium

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07Jun 12

Lemon-Lime Yoghurt Cake

Lime Yoghurt CakeI’ve always loved the light and tangy flavour of limes; there’s something about even just the smell of them that makes me feel happy and carefree. This lemon-lime yoghurt cake has the perfect amount of sweetness to compliment the sour taste of the citrus.

I like to leave this cake unfrosted with just a light dusting of icing sugar in order to fully appreciate the lime flavour, but if you prefer, you can frost it with any plain or citrus-flavoured frosting.  (Also try this lime cheesecake. Absolutely scrumptious!)

 

Ingredients:

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 250ml plain yoghurt
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 215g cake flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • Grated rind of 2 limes
  • Grated rind of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Icing sugar for dusting

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour two 20cm x 10cm x 7cm loaf pans, or line them with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer set on medium speed, cream the butter.
  4. Add the sugar a little at a time and beat until light in colour.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Add the lemon and lime rinds, half the lemon and lime juices and yoghurt. Blend well.
  7. With the mixer set on low speed, add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix just until blended.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Spread the batter evenly between the two pans.
  9. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a bit of crumb on it.
  10.  Remove the cakes from the oven and pour the rest of the lemon and lime juices over the hot cakes.
  11.  Cool the cakes in their pans for 20 to 25 minutes.
  12.  Carefully remove the cakes from the pans and continue to cool on wire cooling racks.
  13.  When the cakes have completely cooled, remove and discard the parchment paper.
  14.  Dust with a little icing sugar and serve.

 

 

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  55 minutes

Serves:  10-12

Difficulty:  Medium

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05Jun 12

Molasses and Spice Biscuits

Molasses and spice biscuitsIn today’s world, it can be hard to find the time to bake biscuits at home,  but I am convinced that home-made is still the best!  In the end it’s almost as cheap as buying them, and  there is really nothing that compares to a freshly-baked biscuit still hot from the oven.

A perennial favourite around my house, these Molasses and Spice Biscuits are almost sinfully delicious!  The cinnamon, cloves and ginger add an exotic nuance to the recipe that always makes me think of spice caravans winding their way across some Eastern desert.  Just one bite brings images of camels and colourful piles of spices and fabrics to mind.

As with most biscuit recipes, this one is fairly quick and easy to prepare.  The trick is to leave the uncooked dough in the refrigerator as long as possible, overnight if you can.  This helps to keep them from spreading out too much while baking and merging together into one giant mess on the baking sheet.

When they’re ready, serve with a glass of milk or a cup of tea for dipping.

Ingredients:

  • 115g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated white sugar
  • 170g (1/2 cup) unsulphured molasses
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 510g (4 cups) white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 32g granulated sugar for coating the cookies (1/4 cup).

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175º C.
  2. Cream the butter, vegetable oil and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Add the molasses and eggs and beat until thoroughly combined.
  4. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cloves, ginger and cinnamon.
  6. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter and sugar bowl.
  7. Keep stirring until the mixture is well blended and smooth.
  8. Chill the dough for at least an hour.
  9. Roll pieces of dough into 3 cm balls.
  10. Coat the balls with the granulated sugar by rolling them around on a plate with the sugar.
  11. Place the balls about 6 cm apart on a baking sheet.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 14 minutes.  The biscuits will flatten as they bake.
  13. Remove the biscuits from the oven and cool on wire racks.

Prep Time: 15 minutes + 30 minutes chilling

Cooking Time: 14 minutes

Serves: 6 (about 40 cookies)

Difficulty: Easy

Note: For a more chocolaty option, try these chocolate chunk and raspberry cookies.

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