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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Recipes with desserts

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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21Jun 12

Almond and Chestnut Cake

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

 

Ingredients:

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

 

Instructions:

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

Prep Time:  45 minutes

Cooking Time:  60 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty:  Medium

 

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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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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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25Mar 12

Chocolate Roll

Chocolate RollThis rich and creamy chocolate roll, similar to a chocolate roulade, is a bit labour-intensive, but I guarantee that the result is worth it!

Ingredients:

  • 150g of semi-sweet milk chocolate
  • 100g (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 30ml (¼ cup) of water
  • 6 eggs with the yolks separated from the whites and the whites stiffly beaten
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee granules
  • 356ml (1 ½ cups) of double cream
  • 2 tbsp. of icing sugar
  • ½ a tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. Kirsch (or neat cherry brandy)
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC and line a jelly-roll pan with buttered and floured parchment paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double saucepan over simmering water.
  3. Mix together the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook for two more minutes over medium heat.
  4. Place the egg yolks in a bowl in the meantime.
  5. Pour the hot sugar syrup over the yolks and beat vigorously with a whisk for around 5 minutes, until the mixture is light, smooth and pale yellow in colour.
  6. Mix in the coffee and the melted chocolate.
  7. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and whisk vigorously until well mixed.
  8. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold them in with a spatula.  Mix them just enough to combine the ingredients, but take care not to overwork it.
  9.  pour in the batter.  It should be about ½ inch thick.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, until the cake springs back when you press on it.
  11. Cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic film and let it cool for at least 2 hours more.
  12. Start whipping the cream until it is thick but not stiff yet.
  13. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and Kirsch and keep beating until the cream is firm.

Now for the hard part – rolling the cake:

  1. Remove the plastic wrap and slide a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.
  2. Spread the whipped cream on the cake.
  3. Start at one end and begin rolling up the cake with the paper still on.
  4. Peel off the paper as you go a little at a time with each roll.  Try not to press down so that the cream doesn’t get squeezed out.
  5. Continue rolling and removing the plastic until the roll is completed.
  6. Using two spatulas, slide the cake onto a serving platter with the end on the bottom so that the top looks smooth.
  7. Sprinkle cocoa powder over the top with a sieve to garnish, then refrigerate.

Prep Time:  45 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty: Difficult

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14Feb 12

White Birthday Cake with Nutella Frosting

White Birthday Cake with Nutella FrostingBirthdays! Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they come around every year!  And although I adore cheesecake, there is just no better way to celebrate than with my white birthday cake with Nutella frosting!  I admit it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but that’s why birthdays are only once a year.

This hearty and delicious white birthday cake recipe was a staple around my house at birthday time when I was growing up.  It was handed down to me by my mother, who got it from my grandma, who got it from her mother, who supposedly invented it – although I make no claims as to the authenticity of this fact!  Either way, the cake is absolutely scrumptious and the Nutella frosting (my own addition) provides a great nutty/chocolaty contrast to the spongy white cake base.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try cutting the cake into two layers (after cooking and cooling, of course).  You can fill the middle layer with more Nutella, or strawberry jam, or any other flavour of jam, or whatever else tickles your fancy.  You could also garnish it with sliced almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, or whatever other nut you prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup of boiling water
  • ½ cup of whole milk
  • 2 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 400g jar of Nutella

Instructions:

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy.
  2. Add the boiling water and the milk a little at a time, stirring continuously.
  3. Add the vanilla and stir well.
  4. Add the baking powder and stir it in to the mix.
  5. Add 1 cup of flour and 1 egg, mixing vigorously.
  6. Repeat step 5 until all the flour and eggs have been added.
  7. Pour the mixture into an approx. 23cm round tube cake pan.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 160ºC for one hour or until a toothpick inserted at the top comes out clean.
  9. Turn out onto a cake rack and let it cool.
  10. Spread the Nutella over the outside of the cake and serve.

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves:  10

Difficulty:  Medium

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