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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Less than 90 mins

03Oct 12

Pecan Squares

Pecan SquaresThese deliciously satisfying pecan squares are a fantastic solution if you’re looking for an interesting dessert for a dinner party or brunch.  Use the best quality pecans you can get and keep a close eye while baking to avoid burning.

I also suggest you try my apricot and pecan cake. It makes a fantastic breakfast option!

 

Pecan Squares
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A fantastic solution if you're looking for an interesting dessert
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • 225g butter at room temperature
  • 150g brown sugar
  • ½tsp salt
  • 375g flour
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 115g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 6tbsp honey
  • 2tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2tbsp double cream
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 200g pecan halves
  • ½tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. FOR THE CRUST:
  2. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  3. Line a deep baking dish with parchment.
  4. Using an electric mixer or a food processor, mix the butter and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the salt and mix to combine.
  6. Add the flour a third at a time on medium speed and continue mixing until the dough starts to form large clumps.
  7. Press the dough into the baking dish lined with parchment to form a crust about ½ centimetre thick.
  8. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork in 10 places or so.
  9. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes.
  10. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.
  11. Transfer pan to a wire rack for cooling.
  12. FOR THE FILLING:
  13. Reduce the heat of the oven to 160ºC.
  14. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, double cream and salt in a pot over medium heat.
  15. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture sticks to the back of a spoon, about 1 minute.
  16. Remove from heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla extract.
  17. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.
  18. Bake in the 160º oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling starts to bubble.
  19. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  20. When cool, carefully lift out of the pan and place on a cutting board.
  21. Cut into 5cm squares.
  22. Can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

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14Sep 12

Triple Chocolate Cake

 Triple Chocolate CakeChocolate, chocolate and more chocolate – what more do I need to say about this triple chocolate cake recipe?!  Get baking and enjoy. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

For another rich chocolate dessert to be eaten by the spoonful, try these intense little chocolate pots. They are sinfully tantalising!

 

Triple Chocolate Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate
Ingredients
  • CHOCOLATE SPONGE:
  • 4 eggs, yolks separated from whites, whites stiffly beaten
  • 165g plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 90g semisweet chocolate, melted in 1 tablespoon of water
  • 95g plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • RICH BUTTERCREAM FILLING:
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 125ml water
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract
  • 125g semisweet chocolate
  • CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
  • 60g semisweet chocolate
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. FOR THE CHOCOLATE SPONGE:
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. Butter and flour an 8cm deep cake pan and set aside.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar to a pale foam.
  5. Gradually fold in the melted chocolate and flour, then gently fold in the egg whites.
  6. Blend thoroughly and pour into the buttered and floured cake pan.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out dry.
  8. Remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool.
  9. FOR THE RICH BUTTERCREAM FILLING:
  10. Stir the sugar and water together in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and boils.
  11. Let this syrup boil without stirring until the temperature reaches 112 to 116ºC on a candy thermometer.
  12. Remove the syrup from the heat.
  13. Whisking vigorously, pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks and keep beating until the mixture is cool, light and fluffy.
  14. Cream the butter in a separate bowl until it's very soft, then beat the butter and vanilla extract into the yolk mixture until it's shiny and firm enough to spread.
  15. Melt the chocolate in in a double saucepan over hot water, let cool and then fold into the butter cream.
  16. FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
  17. Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat while stirring.
  18. Remove from heat and bind with the beaten egg yolk.
  19. TO FINISH THE CAKE:
  20. Cut the cooled cake into 3 layers.
  21. Spread thick layers of chocolate buttercream filling between the layers and reassemble the cake.
  22. Carefully pour the rich chocolate glaze evenly over the top of the cake.

 

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08Aug 12

Apple Meringue Pie

Apple Meringue Pie
A traditional Swedish dessert, this apple meringue pie is a real treat for the apple pie connoisseur.  With a crispy crust, scrumptious strawberry and tart apple filling, all covered with a light and delicious meringue, this pie is sure to satisfy even the most demanding of palates.  Although the recipe and finished product appear to be quite complex and difficult, in reality, it’s quite the opposite.  You’ll have it ready in just over an hour, and judging by past experience, it’ll only last about half that time before disappearing!

For another fruity meringue treat, try this iced fruit mountains and hot chocolate snow recipe.

 

Apple Meringue Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
A traditional Swedish dessert
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • 75g butter
  • 3tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 95g flour
  • 30g chopped roasted almonds
  • 1tbsp grated lemon peel
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 5 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
  • 65g granulated sugar
  • 1.5tbsp lemon juice
  • 160g strawberry jam
  • FOR THE MERINGUE:
  • 2 egg whites
  • A few grains of salt
  • 4tbsp granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. FOR THE CRUST:
  2. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  3. Cream the butter with 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
  4. Add the egg yolks and mix well.
  5. Add the flour, almonds, lemon peel and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and blend well.
  6. Press the dough onto the bottom and sides of a pie pan.
  7. Brush the crust with a little unbeaten egg white.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven.
  10. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling as follows:
  11. Combine the apple eighths with the granulated sugar and remaining lemon juice in a saucepan.
  12. Cover and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  13. Spread the strawberry jam evenly over the baked crust.
  14. Arrange the cooked apples over the top of the strawberry jam.
  15. FOR THE MERINGUE:
  16. Beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff but not dry.
  17. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating continuously.
  18. Mound the meringue over the apples and return to the oven.
  19. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the meringue is just lightly browned.

 

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26Jul 12

Apple Coffee Cake

Apple Coffee Cake

 

This apple coffee cake is a deliciously spicy treat that goes extremely well with your cup of morning tea or coffee. For an afternoon or evening dessert, pair it with a xanté hot apple cocktail. The combined flavours will be delicious!

The tartness of the apples provides the perfect counterpoint to the aromatic sweetness of the coffee cake. In fact, I suggest you use the tartest apples you can find, as this really makes the cake stand out from the crowd. For a truly decadent delight, try adding some pecans or walnuts (or any other nut) to the batter. If you do, be sure to coat the nuts with a bit of flour before adding them to the mix, as this will help to keep them from sinking to the bottom during baking.

Apple Coffee Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This apple coffee cake is a deliciously spicy treat that goes extremely well with your cup of morning tea or coffee.
Ingredients
  • 110g butter
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 2tbsp buttermilk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼tsp grated nutmeg
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp baking soda
  • 250g flour
  • 30g icing sugar for decoration
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
  3. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the apples and stir well to coat them with the butter.
  5. Simmer for about 30 seconds, remove from heat and set aside for later.
  6. Beat together the eggs and the granulated sugar.
  7. Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.
  8. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and baking soda and blend well.
  9. Add the flour a little at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
  10. Fold in the apples and melted butter and mix well.
  11. Pour the batter into the buttered and floured loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  12. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from the pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  13. Top with icing sugar.

 

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23Jul 12

Basque Cream Cake

Basque Cream Cake

This is a French recipe originating from the Basque region, an area that borders France and Spain. That´s where I first tried this cake, after a very long morning walk around the city of Soule, France, and a quite heavy meal that included Coq Au Vin in a great restaurant where everything was fantastic. I didn´t know what to order for dessert, so the waiter recommended this delicacy, which is difficult to find even in Basque bakeries. Luckily, this rustic jewel is not hard to make, just hard to resist.

I really liked its textures and flavours, and thought it could also be an ideal afternoon tea time snack. It’s a cake with a crunchy textured top and bottom, and then a soft middle. The filling is simply pastry cream. The cake I first made consisted of a cake that was basically dripping with rum, a vanilla pastry cream and slivered almonds on top.

It is known in French as Gateau Basque, where the traditional filling is cherries; there are countless variations to the cake depending on where it is made. The stuffing can be varied depending on the requirements and availability: sometimes, powdered almonds or lemon zest may also be used to make the pastry of the cake, and the yeast may be replaced with baking powder. The cream filling may be flavoured with almonds, anise, rum or Armagnac, or it could also contain cherry jam.

Basque Cream Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This Basque cream cake is a yummy, cream-filled classic from southern France.
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 250g flour
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs, one of them lightly beaten
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 150g butter, melted and cooled
  • 60ml fresh strained orange juice
  • 4 drops vanilla extract
  • 10ml dark rum
  • For the pastry cream filling:
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 40g flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 500ml milk
  • 5cm piece of vanilla bean
Instructions
  1. Prepare the pastry cream filling first:
  2. Mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a spoon, beating until the mixture is thick and cream-coloured.
  3. Gradually work in the flour and a pinch of salt.
  4. Place the milk and the vanilla bean in a saucepan and heat to the boiling point.
  5. Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture in a thin stream, stirring constantly.
  6. Turn the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring vigorously, until it comes to the boiling point.
  7. Boil for two minutes.
  8. Strain the mixture and allow it to cool. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on it.
  9. Prepare the cake:
  10. Oil a spring-form cake pan and preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  11. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl.
  12. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the three unbeaten eggs with the granulated sugar.
  13. Slowly add the butter to the eggs and sugar.
  14. Beat in the flour mixture, a third at a time.
  15. Mix in the orange juice, vanilla extract and rum.
  16. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes.
  17. Fill an icing bag fitted with a No.6 open star nozzle with the cake batter.
  18. Pipe the batter in a spiral shape into the oiled cake pan, starting at the outside edge and finishing at the centre.
  19. Spread the pastry cream over the batter, leaving a one centimetre edge uncovered. Make sure the pastry cream doesn’t touch the edge of the pan.
  20. Cover the pastry cream with a spiral of batter, making sure the edge is well covered.
  21. Brush the top with the beaten egg.
  22. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until it feels dry.
  23. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out and serve cold.

 

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06Jul 12

Traditional Pound Cake

Traditional Pound cakeThis is a recipe for traditional pound cake, just like Grandma used to make!  The reason it’s called pound cake is because of the original quantities of the main ingredients in the old imperial measuring system – a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour and a pound of eggs.  My now, doesn’t that sound healthy!?!

Well, be that as it may, this recipe has been a classic for ages, and it’s easy to see why.  Aside from being easy to remember and easy to make, it’s also very moist and delicious and loved by almost anyone with a sweet tooth!

I top my cake with icing sugar, but if you have a preference for chocolate, you could make this dark chocolate ganache to cover it.

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 190g cake flour
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • Icing sugar for dusting

                                          

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. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until light in colour.
  4. Add the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl in order to make sure mixture is well-blended.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend in the flour, baking powder and salt just until blended.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 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.
  8. Remove the pound cake from the oven and place it on a wire cooling rack. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  9. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue to cool on the wire rack until it’s completely cool. Remove and discard the baking parchment.
  10.  Dust the top with the icing sugar and serve in slices.
  11.  Any unused cake can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature, or it may also be frozen for later use.

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  55 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty:  Easy

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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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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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