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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Less than 90 mins

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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02Jun 12

Peanut Butter Biscuits

Peanut Butter BiscuitsIf you like peanut butter, you’re going to love these chewy peanut butter biscuits!  As with most biscuits, they’re very easy to make and quite difficult to go wrong with.  I like to use smooth peanut butter for mine, but if you prefer to use the crunchy variety, that’ll work just fine as well.  I even tried using almond butter one time for a friend of mine who has a very bad peanut allergy and the result, while not as good as with peanut butter,  was still quite tasty and my friend was definitely thankful he could at least try them!

 

As with almost all biscuit recipes, it’s very important to let the mixture set in the fridge for at least an hour – the longer the better.  This helps to keep the biscuits from spreading out into a thin mess and running into each other.  If you have a really sweet tooth, you can  either try coating them in brown sugar before placing them on the baking sheet or serve with a scoop of peanut butter ice cream.  Whatever you do, keep a close eye on them while they’re baking; there’s nothing worse than waiting all that time for the dough to set and then burning to a crisp due to a distraction!

Ingredients: 

  • 230g unsalted butter
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 250ml peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease a baking sheet.
  3. Cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar.
  4. Add the eggs, peanut butter and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and blend well.
  7. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  8. Shape into 4 cm balls and arrange on the greased baking sheet, leaving 5cm between each ball.
  9. Press down on each ball with a fork until it’s about half its original thickness.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits are lightly browned around the edges.
  11. Turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

Prep Time: 10 minutes + 1 hour setting

Cooking Time: 12 minutes

Serves: 4

Difficulty: Medium

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30May 12

Banana Bread

Banana BreadWe buy and eat a LOT of bananas at my home, but no matter how hard we try, we never seem to be able to eat them all before they start to turn brown and mushy.  Some people claim to like them that way, but I’m definitely not one of them!  So what better solution to the mushy banana problem than making banana bread!?

 

The loaf is a breeze to prepare and the result, frankly, is out of this world!  The outer crust seems to somehow soak up a higher sugar content and turns into a sweet and crunchy delight, while the inside stays incredibly moist and chewy and almost melts on your tongue.  Plus, it’s made out of bananas, so it can’t be too fattening! At least that’s what I like to tell myself as I wolf down my third piece…

The bananas don’t necessarily have to be brown and mushy for this recipe to work, but they do have to be fully ripe.  Green ones will definitely ruin the effect.  Your best bet is to do like me and buy lots of yellow bananas to eat alone or in blueberry and banana smoothies, but whenever the extras start to go bad, you’ve got the perfect excuse to make yourself a (relatively) healthy dessert!  The loaf freezes very well too, so go ahead and double or triple the recipe and stick the extras in the freezer for later.

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 185g flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Butter and flour a 21cm x 10cm loaf pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas into the sugar with a fork or potato masher.
  4. Add the egg and mix well.
  5. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
  6. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture and mix well.
  7. Pour the mixture into the buttered and floured loaf pan.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes or until a fork inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4

Difficulty: Easy

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07May 12

Apple Cake

Apple CakeThis  apple cake recipe is delicious warm from the oven, but also makes for a good breakfast the next day. You can serve the cake plain or add a scoop of whipped cream, crème fraîche or ice cream for extra enjoyment, or you could even drizzle some caramel sauce or condensed milk over the top.

You can use any type of apples in season. Personally, I like to use a mixture of different varieties of apples. The recipe calls for 4, so why not use 4 different kinds? The cake will taste a little bit different every time, but that’s really the great thing about it!   The cake can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (Also try this apple tart tatin recipe.)

Ingredients:

  • 300g plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 250g chopped walnuts
  • 6 eggs
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced (about 1 litre)
  • 1 litre vanilla ice cream

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Line a 23cm circular pan with baking parchment. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In an electric mixer set on medium speed, mix the eggs, 300g granulated sugar, the oil, lemon juice, lemon rind and vanilla.
  5. On low speed, add the flour and baking powder. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth.
  6. Pour the apples and walnuts into the batter and mix well.
  7. When all blended together, gently fold the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Smooth it out so that it lies evenly, with no apples peeking out from the top.
  9. Next, top and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar.
  10. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
  11. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on wire cooling rack. Make sure that the cake is very cool before you remove it from the pan.
  12. Discard the baking parchment and serve, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  65 minutes

Serves:  10

Difficulty:  Medium

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03May 12

Orange and Plum Cake

Orange and plum cakeThis tender orange and plum cake goes great with a cup of tea, and some my family members have even been known to eat it for breakfast when they think I’m not looking!  The tartness of the dried plums contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the orange, and the lack of frosting makes it just perfect for dipping in milk or tea or whatever your beverage of choice happens to be. (Not a fan of oranges? Try this apple and plum pudding.)

For a truly decadent taste experience, try it with a glass of Baileys or Kahlua.  You can dip a slice right in your glass if you want, or else do as I do: heat the liqueur for a few seconds in the microwave and drizzle over the sponge. Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 115g plus 3 tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 95g cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Grated rind of 1 orange
  • 1 medium orange, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 250g dried plums, coarsely chopped
  • Icing sugar for dusting

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Line a bread pan with baking parchment and set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and icing sugar until blended.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
  6. Add the vanilla extract.
  7. On low speed, gradually add the flour, baking powder and orange rind. Mix just until blended.
  8. Stir in the orange pieces and plums.
  9. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven.
  11. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and continue cooling cake on wire rack until cool.
  12.  Remove and discard the baking parchment.
  13.  Dust the top of the cooled cake with icing sugar.
  14.  Store the cake at room temperature, wrapped in aluminium foil or clingfilm.
  15.  Can be frozen for later use.

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  55 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  Easy

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30Apr 12

Gumdrop Cake

Gumdrop CakeAnother Canadian recipe I learned from my great-aunt, this gumdrop cake,  is apparently a traditional Christmas cake over there.  We usually visited her in the summer, but luckily this cake freezes very well, so she always made sure to save some for us when we visited.

The cake is far from healthy, and I imagine it’s quite fattening, but what do you expect from a cake full of fruit gums?!  In any case, it’s sinfully delicious and a great treat for the little ones – and the older ones too!

My great-aunt’s recipe calls for sugar-coated gumdrops, but I can’t usually find that kind at my local shops and usually just substitute the regular kind.  I don’t think the difference is really noticeable, even though a Canadian might disagree with that assumption.

The cake is sweet enough on its own and doesn’t require any frosting, just make sure you don’t leave it in the oven too long as it’s best when the sponge is nice and moist.

Ingredients:

  • 227g butter
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 375g flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 500ml gumdrops

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Butter and flour a tube cake pan.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and beat well.
  5. Add flour and baking powder alternately with milk – beginning and ending with flour.
  6. Add the lemon extract.
  7. Cut the gumdrops into small pieces and coat with a little flour.
  8. Fold the gumdrops into the batter.  The batter should be very stiff to avoid the gumdrops sinking to the bottom during baking.  Add a little more flour if necessary.
  9. Pour the batter into the greased and floured tube cake pan.
  10.  Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

For more seasonal ideas, try this Christmas cake recipe.

 

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  60 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty:  Medium

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25Apr 12

Banana Cake with Orange Frosting

Banana cake with orange frostingA few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me to make a cake for her daughter’s birthday party,  but it turned out that her daughter didn’t like chocolate, vanilla, or any of the other typical birthday cake flavours.  At first I was at a bit of a loss about what to make, but after a bit of thinking, inspiration struck.  This banana cake with orange frosting was the result, and her daughter absolutely loved it!

The cake is really just a traditional banana bread recipe, but doubled and baked in a round tube pan instead of its usual rectangular shape.  The frosting is cream cheese-based and flavoured with the juice and rind of a fresh orange.  If you don’t happen to have any fresh oranges at hand, you can substitute with store-bought orange juice.  It won’t be quite as tasty and tangy, but it’ll do in a pinch.

If you prefer veggies over fruits, you can try this carrot cake recipe, which tastes very similar and is absolutely delicious!

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

  • 6 very ripe bananas
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 370g flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2tsp baking soda
  • 8tbsp melted butter
  • 1tsp cinnamon

For the frosting:

  • 200g of cream cheese
  • 320g (2 ½ cups) of icing sugar
  • Juice from one medium orange
  • 1tsp orange zest

Instructions:

For the sponge:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Butter and flour a 27cm diameter round tube cake pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas into the sugar with a fork or potato masher.
  4. Beat in the eggs and mix well.
  5. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
  6. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture and blend well.
  7. Pour the mixture into the buttered and floured pan.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the side comes out clean.

For the frosting:

  1. Combine all the ingredients and blend very well, either by hand or with an electric mixer.
  2. Cool the icing in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  If it is too runny, add more icing sugar.
  3. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and serve.

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  60 minutes

Serves:  10-12

Difficulty:  Medium

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