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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Recipes with sugar

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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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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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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07Apr 12

Orange Cake with Strawberries and Cream

Orange cake with strawberries and creamThis light and fruity orange cake with strawberries and cream is the perfect dessert to serve on a hot summer afternoon.  The orange rind gives it a subtle citrus flavour which is counterbalanced perfectly by the strawberries and cream.

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • 110g butter, softened
  • 145g cake flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1/3tsp salt
  • 4tbsp orange juice
  • 185ml buttermilk
  • 1tbsp grated orange rind
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 500g strawberries, chopped
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 100ml double cream

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour or line a cake pan with baking parchment. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium speed, blend the butter and sugar until light in colour.
  4.  Add 2 tablespoons of the orange juice, the rind and the vanilla. Blend well.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until blended.
  6. Fold the batter mixture into the beaten egg whites. Pour into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.
  8. While the cake is baking, prepare the strawberries by mixing the chopped strawberries with 150g of granulated sugar.  Stir well to make sure all the fruit is coated in sugar. Set aside for 20 minutes so that the berries release their juice.  Mix with the double cream and refrigerate until the cake is done and cool.
  9. Pour 2 tablespoons of orange juice on top of baked cake.
  10. Cool cake in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from the pan and continue lettting it sit on the wire cooling rack until it reaches room temperature.
  12. Remove and discard the baking parchment, if necessary.
  13. Drizzle a heaping tablespoon or two of the strawberries and cream over the cake in whichever decorative pattern you choose.
  14. Coat any visible strawberries with icing sugar and serve immediately.  If you don’t plan on serving immediately, leave the strawberries until you do.
Note: Sometimes, I like cutting the cake in half horizontally and adding the strawberries and cream in the middle so as to have several layers of fruit.
 
(Want more orange cake recipes? I recommend this Easter cake with orange and marzipan.)

 

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  50 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty:  Medium

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