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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Recipes with baking soda

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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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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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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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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04Jun 12

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate fudge cake with Cream Cheese FrostingIf there’s one thing I’m completely ‘over-the-top passionate’ about, it’s chocolate.  And you can’t get much more chocolaty than this!  This melt-in-your mouth chocolate fudge cake with cream cheese frosting is like a little piece of heaven on your tongue.  Other versions have a hint of Earl grey, although the cake itself is very, very rich, the tanginess of the cream cheese frosting offsets that richness in just the right way, making this the perfect dessert for any occasion. A spot of tea is a nice complement for my recipe or try this Earl Grey chocolate fudge cake.

If you want to go all the way over the top, try adding around a half-cup of cocoa powder to the icing mixture for a true chocolate lover’s delight.

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

  • 45g (½ cup) of pure cocoa powder
  • 235ml (1 cup) of boiling water
  • 8 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 250g (2 cups) of sifted all-purpose flour
  • 400g (2 cups) of granulated white sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml (½ cup) of sour cream or Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 200g of cream cheese
  • 320g (2 ½ cups) of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Mix the cocoa powder, the boiling water and the butter in a large bowl.  Make sure the cocoa powder is completely dissolved and the butter is completely liquiefied.
  3. Let the mixture cool.
  4. In a different bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the cooled cocoa mixture a little at a time.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
  7. Add the sour cream (or Greek yoghurt) and the vanilla extract and stir well.
  8. Pour the batter into a buttered and floured tube pan.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted into the centre and comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake on a wire cake rack.

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.
  3. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and serve.

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves:  10

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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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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23Mar 12

Spicy Pumpkin Cake

Spicy Pumpkin CakeUntil quite recently, I was thoroughly convinced that the idea of putting vegetables in desserts was completely and utterly insane.  I just couldn’t get my head around the reasoning behind what seemed to me to be a ridiculous notion!  Carrot cake?! Courgette loaf?! Madness!

In any case, my opinion has changed, and it all started when I tried this Spicy Pumpkin Cake at a friend’s dinner party.  It was absolutely scrumptious!

 

 

You can use canned pumpkin purée for this recipe, but if you want it to be truly authentic, you should use fresh pumpkin.  To do so, slice, peel and seed 500 grams of fresh pumpkin and simmer until just tender (about 15 minutes), then push trough a sieve to make the purée.

Ingredients:

  • 120 g butter, softened
  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 625 g sifted cake flour
  • 12 g baking powder
  • 1 1/2 g baking soda
  • 2 g salt
  • 5 g ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 g ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 g ground ginger
  • 175 ml buttermilk
  • 175 ml pumpkin purée
  • 150 g finely chopped pecans

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180º C.
  2. Butter and flour two cake (or bread) pans and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and ginger.
  6. Sift the above a second time to make sure they are well blended.
  7. Add the sifted flour and spices mix to the egg and butter mixture and stir for a few seconds.
  8. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
  9. Add the chopped pecans and pumpkin purée, mix thoroughly.  Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure proper mixing.
  10. Pour half of the batter into each of the buttered and floured cake pans.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  12. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and put them in the refrigerator for 45 minutes, or until cold.
  13. Serve. (Try with whipped cream or frosting for extra sweetness.)

Prep Time:  50 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty: Difficult

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