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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Less than 1 hour

30Jul 12

Date and Raisin Biscuits

Date and Raisin BiscuitsThis delicious date and raisin biscuit recipe was given to me years ago by a neighbour who was a real baking aficionado, and they instantly became one of my favourite biscuits!  I remember her house (and mine, as I lived right next door) used to always smell of cakes and biscuits at the weekends, which always left me with my mouth watering and wondering if it would be too cheeky to go over and ask for a sample!  Luckily, I never had to, as she eventually came over and offered me some of these delicious biscuits, and many other treats over the course of the years that I lived next to her.

To keep with the date theme, you could try this curly asparagus salad with goat’s cheese and Medjool dates as a meal before these biscuits. After all, you will probably need some healthy food to offset the sugar in this recipe!

As with most biscuit recipes, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Just make sure you mix everything well and remember that the longer you let the dough sit in the refrigerator, the better they’ll turn out.  Enjoy!

 

Date and Raisin Biscuits
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 100g seedless raisins
  • 150g chopped dates
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 200g butter
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 375g plus 3tsp flour
  • ½tsp salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Place the dates and raisins in a saucepan and cover them with 250ml of water.
  4. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Most of the water will boil off or be absorbed by the raisins. What little water is left should not be drained but kept as part of the raisin and date mix. This will help the consistency of the batter later.
  5. Stir in the baking soda and let cool.
  6. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar.
  7. Beat the eggs well, and then beat them into the butter and sugar mixture.
  8. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
  9. Blend the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.
  10. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  11. Add the cooled raisins and dates to the batter and mix well.
  12. Cover the batter with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  13. Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter onto the greased baking sheet, leaving about 3 to 4 cm between each biscuit.
  14. Bake for around 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges turn golden.

 

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19Jul 12

Hazelnut Torte

Hazelnut TorteA simple, yet satisfying, hazelnut torte recipe that is quick to prepare, and even quicker to disappear! (For those of you who like hazelnuts mixed with chocolate, you should definitely try this white birthday cake with nutella frosting as well.)

 

Hazelnut Torte
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 175g hazelnuts
  • 100g finely sliced almonds
  • 255g caster sugar
  • 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 3tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp fresh strained lemon juice
  • 250ml double cream, whipped
  • 2tbsp granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 240ºC.
  2. Butter and flour two layer-cake pans and line them with baking parchment. Set aside for later.
  3. Spread the hazelnuts along the bottom of an oven-safe pan and roast in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the skin cracks open and the nuts are toasted. Shake the pan every few minutes to keep the nuts from burning.
  4. Remove the nuts from the oven and pour them onto a clean kitchen towel.
  5. Reduce the heat of the oven to 150ºC.
  6. Rub energetically with the towel to remove the skins.
  7. Grind the skinned nuts with a nut grinder or food processor.
  8. Sift through the ground nuts and eliminate any large pieces.
  9. Grind the larger pieces again and add back to the rest of the ground nuts, along with the almonds.
  10. Beat the caster sugar into the egg whites a little at a time.
  11. Continue beating another few minutes after all the caster sugar has been added.
  12. Add two teaspoons of the vanilla extract and all of the lemon juice to the mixture and beat for two or three more minutes to ensure that all of the sugar has been completely dissolved into the egg whites.
  13. Carefully fold a little more than three-quarters of the ground nuts into the mixture.
  14. Pour half of the mixture into each of the buttered and floured cake pans.
  15. Bake in the 150ºC oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cakes are firm but not browned.
  16. Turn the cakes out onto wire racks and remove the baking parchment.
  17. Allow the cakes to cool.
  18. While the cakes are cooling, mix the whipped double cream with the granulated sugar and the remaining vanilla extract.
  19. Fold the rest of the nuts into the whipped cream.
  20. Place one of the cooled cake layers on a serving plate and spread the whipped cream and nut mixture on top of it.
  21. Carefully lay the second layer on top of the first and serve immediately.

 

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09Jul 12

Blueberry Cake

Blueberry CakeEvery summer when I was a little girl, we used to visit my great-aunt who lived in Canada,  and she would often take us blueberry picking.  The picking itself was pure torture, bending over for hours on end picking the berries, scraping our hands on the bushes and wilting under the hot sun, but when we finally got home she would always make tons of blueberrydesserts, which made all the effort worth it.  My favourite of those desserts was blueberry cake. (A similar version is this delicious pistachio and blueberry cake.)

This isn’t the exact recipe she used, but it’s fairly close to what I remember from those hot and humid Canadian summer afternoons so long ago.  I particularly like the way the blueberries seem to explode in your mouth with a burst of sweetness when you bite into one side of the cake.  Just make sure you let it cool well before you eat it as the blueberries retain the heat quite well and you can burn your tongue – trust me, I’m talking from experience on this one!

If you can’t get fresh blueberries, frozen ones will work perfectly well in their place. In fact you can’t really tell the difference, so if price is a problem, then go ahead and use the frozen berries which are generally a lot cheaper unless it’s the right season.  You can also try sprinkling a 50/50 mix of sugar and cinnamon on top for an extra-decadent delight.

Ingredients:

  • 125ml butter
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 500ml blueberries, washed and dried
  • 250g all purpose flour
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Butter and flour a 20 cm round cake pan.
  3. Cream together the butter and the granulated sugar.
  4. Mix in the eggs and buttermilk.
  5. Add the flour, cinnamon and baking soda and stir well.
  6. Add the blueberries and mix well.
  7. Pour the mixture into the buttered and floured cake pan.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until  a knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Difficulty: Easy

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03Jul 12

Nutty Meringue Cake

Nutty Meringue CakeThis nutty meringue cake is a light and nutty delight that makes for a perfect treat on a hot summer’s day. Although the end result is quite impressive and looks like it was difficult to make, the process itself is actually rather simple.  Just be careful to not leave the meringues in the oven too long so that they don’t burn!

For a fruity meringue flavour, try this iced fruit mountains and hot chocolate snow recipe.

Nutty Meringue Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 1.5tbsp cornflour
  • 55g peanuts, shelled
  • 55g almonds
  • 6 stiffly beaten egg whites
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Butter and flour a baking sheet and two standard sized flan rings (about 23cm wide by 2-3cm deep).
  3. Place the rings on top of the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Mix together the granulated sugar and cornflour.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared rings and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the meringue cool in the rings.
  8. While the meringues are cooling, grind the peanuts and almonds together in a blender or food processor. Put them in a bowl and mix them with the cream cheese, vanilla extract and all but 1 tablespoon of the icing sugar. This is the icing mixture.
  9. Mix well and ensure that the icing is well blended.
  10. Remove the rings from the two meringues.
  11. The side that was touching the baking sheet will be very flat. Place one of the meringues on a serving plate with this side down.
  12. Spread about 75% of the icing evenly on top of the bottom meringue layer.
  13. Place the other layer of meringue on top of the icing and bottom layer.
  14. Use a spatula to spread the rest of the icing over the sides of the cake, partly covering the top meringue layer.
  15. Put the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a sieve and sprinkle over top of the meringue to create a light chocolate blanket.
  16. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  17. Serve cold, cut into small wedges.

 

 

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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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22May 12

Upside-Down Maple Cake

Upside-down Maple cakeIf you thought that maple syrup was only good for drizzling over your pancakes, then get ready for this one!  This upside-down maple cake is chock-full of scrumptious maple syrup and rich double cream, and while it may not be the best thing for your waistline, it’ll definitely get your taste buds tingling and your stomach rumbling as you wait for it to bake!

The hardest part of making an upside-down cake is turning it over.  Make sure you separate the cake well from the edges before flipping and shake the pan a little to help loosen it from the bottom.  If you want to play it extra safe, you can try greasing the pan before adding the ingredients.  This shouldn’t be necessary, however, as the maple syrup forms a natural barrier between the cake and the pan.

When you get a little practice with the flip, try this apple tarte tatin.

If you want to make the presentation even fancier, try sprinkling some pecan halves or chopped walnuts on top before serving.  Good luck and good baking!

Ingredients:                                        

  • 250ml pure maple syrup
  • 2tbsps butter, softened
  • 3tbsps granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 125g sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2tsps baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 20g icing sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Heat the syrup to boiling and pour it into a 15cm by 25cm, 5cm deep glass baking dish.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.
  4. Beat the egg into the creamed butter.
  5. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  6. Sift into the butter mixture a third at a time, alternating with additions of milk.
  7. Pour the batter onto the hot maple syrup.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes.
  10. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake and then flip it out onto a hot platter.
  11. Sprinkle the icing sugar over the cake.
  12. Cut into portions and serve with the double cream, lightly whipped if you prefer.

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time:  25-30 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  Medium

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18May 12

Apple Crumble

Apple crumbleIf you’re anything like me, you’ve probably always got lots of apples in the kitchen at the point of going bad.  As far as I’m concerned, this is a good thing, as it gives me the perfect excuse to bake them into something even yummier.  The great thing about most apple-based desserts is that they’re very easy to make and require little time and effort to prepare.  And this apple crumble recipe is probably the easiest of them all! I also recommend a sliced apple cake. You know what they say: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”

There’s a lot of debate about exactly which variety of apple is the best for cooking; some prefer Gala, while others swear by Granny Smith or Gravenstein.   Personally, I think the point is moot, as the absolute best way to make the perfect cooked apple dessert is to mix as many different kinds as possible together for a full-on taste explosion and a different nuance in every bite!  So go ahead, grab 6 different apples and start peeling!

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 6 cooking  apples (or any apples will do)
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp unsalted butter, melted

For the crumble:

  • 4tsp unsalted butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 65g all-purpose flour
  • 125ml rolled oats

Instructions:

For the filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Peel and slice apples and lay them on the bottom of a non-stick or greased baking dish.
  3. Mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples.
  4. Pour the melted butter over the apples.

For the crumble:

  1. Blend the butter into the brown sugar.
  2. Mix together the flour and rolled oats in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the flour and rolled oats to the butter and sugar and mix well.
  4. Spoon this mixture onto the apples.
  5. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Uncover and bake for another 35 minutes or until the crust is golden and the apples are tender.
  7. Best served warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time:  50 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty:  Easy

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18Apr 12

Yellow Layer Cake with Orange Chocolate Frosting

Yellow layer cake with orange chocolate frosting

This yellow layer cake with orange chocolate frosting is a small variation on your typical yellow sponge cake.  I was getting a bit bored of plain old chocolate or vanilla frosting and decided to get a bit more adventurous.  Of course, if you prefer, you can just make the sponge and use whatever frosting you prefer, but where’s the fun in that?!

This recipe uses only two layers of sponge cake, but I sometimes use three, depending on your mood. You could also make fun shapes, like in this chocolate orange Valentine’s cake.

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

  • 4 eggs, whites separated from yolks
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 240g cake flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 250ml milk

 

For the frosting:

  • 125g cream cheese
  • 315g icing sugar
  • 125g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3tbsp orange juice
  • Grated rind of 1 orange

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour two 25cm round cake pans, or line them with baking parchment and set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer with a wire whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they are soft but not dry. Set aside.
  4. With the electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until light in colour.
  5. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  6. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until batter is smooth.
  9. Carefully fold the flour mixture into the egg whites.
  10.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  11.  While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting as follows:
    • Mix all the ingredients together by hand or with an electric mixer, setting aside just a pinch of the grated orange rind.
    • If the icing is too runny, add a little more icing sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.
    • Refrigerate until you’re ready to frost the cake.
  1.  Remove the pans from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2.  Carefully remove the cakes from the pans and continue to cool on the wire racks. Remove and discard parchment before decorating.
  3.  When cool, frost with the orange and chocolate frosting you prepared earlier and sprinkle over the remaining orange rind. Slice and serve.

 

Prep Time:  30 minutes

Cooking Time:  30minutes

Serves:  10

Difficulty:  Medium

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04Apr 12

Poached Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple upside down cakeLately I’ve been trying to get away from standard chocolate and white cake varieties and getting more into fruit-based cakes, like this almond cake with orchard fruits.  I guess I’m trying to fool myself into thinking they’re a bit healthier, which they are, albeit only slightly!  This poached pineapple upside-down cake is one of the more difficult ones I’ve tried and I have to admit that my first attempt didn’t turn out very well.  However, I gave it another try and it came out beautifully!  The poached pineapple offsets the brown sugar and pecans perfectly and its appearance is quite impressive too.

So arm yourself with patience and give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed with the result!

Ingredients:

For the poached pineapple:

  • 5 fresh pineapple slices, poached and drained.
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 50ml strained orange juice

For the sponge:

  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 6tbsp hot milk
  • 2 eggs, yolks separated from whites, whites stiffly beaten
  • 125g flour, sifted
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 8tbsp butter
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 65ml pecans, chopped into small pieces
  • 5 maraschino cherries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. To poach the pineapple, stir the sugar and water together in a deep, heavy saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Use a dampened pastry brush to wipe down any stray sugar crystals that stick to the sides of the pan.  When the sugar has dissolved, bring the syrup to the boil.  Add the pineapple slices and simmer for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Gradually add half of the granulated sugar and all the milk to the egg yolks, beating steadily.
  4. Thoroughly mix in the rest of the granulated sugar, the flour and the vanilla extract.
  5. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
  6. Melt the butter in a large frying pan (about 23cm in diameter) over medium heat.
  7. Add the brown sugar and blend well.
  8. Remove the frying pan from the heat and arrange the pineapple slices and pecans symmetrically on top of the butter and sugar mixture. Place one cherry in the middle of each pineapple slice.
  9. Cover these ingredients with the batter and place the pan in the preheated oven.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Flip the cake out immediately onto a serving dish.
  12. Let the cake cool before serving.

Prep Time:  25 minutes

Cooking Time:  30 minutes

Serves:  8-10

Difficulty:  Difficult

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30Mar 12

Spectacular Strawberry and Cream Cake

Strawberry and Cream Cake

This spectacular strawberry and cream cake makes a great summertime dessert, but since these days strawberries can be found year-round, why should you wait?!  Get yourself some fresh strawberries and get baking; I guarantee you won’t regret it! (For an extra fruity flavour, try this strawberry and raspberry tart.)

Ingredients:

  • 240g sifted cake flour
  • 330g granulated sugar
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 115g butter
  • 315ml milk
  • 1tsp lemon extract
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 litre fresh strawberries
  • 500ml double cream, whipped with 50g granulated sugar and 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 175ml redcurrant jelly

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Butter two 23cm layer-cake pans and line with baking parchment.
  3. Sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the butter and half of the milk.
  5. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  6. Add the rest of the milk, the lemon extract, the vanilla extract and the egg yolks.
  7. Beat with the electric mixer for another 2 minutes.
  8. Pour the batter into the two 23cm buttered cake pans lined with the baking parchment.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  10.  Cool the layers in their pans for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto wire cooling racks.
  11.  Wash and hull the strawberries.
  12.  Chop enough of the strawberries to make 250ml and set aside the rest.
  13.  Fold the chopped strawberries into 250ml of the whipped cream.
  14.  Place one of the cake layers top side down on a serving plate.
  15.  Spread on the strawberry and cream filling.
  16.  Place the second cake layer on top with the top side up.
  17.  Slice the rest of the strawberries lengthwise and arrange them on top of the cake with the pointed ends facing towards the outer edge.
  18.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  19.   Melt the redcurrant jelly in a small pan over low heat, stirring constantly.
  20.  Spoon the melted jelly over the strawberries.
  21.  Spoon the remaining whipped cream in small puffs over the top of the cake in a decorative pattern.
  22.  Refrigerate the cake until you’re ready to serve it.

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  40 minutes

Serves:  8-10

Difficulty:  Medium

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