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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Recipes with vanilla extract

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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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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19Jul 12

Hazelnut Torte

Hazelnut TorteA simple, yet satisfying, hazelnut torte recipe that is quick to prepare, and even quicker to disappear! (For those of you who like hazelnuts mixed with chocolate, you should definitely try this white birthday cake with nutella frosting as well.)

 

Hazelnut Torte
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 175g hazelnuts
  • 100g finely sliced almonds
  • 255g caster sugar
  • 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 3tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp fresh strained lemon juice
  • 250ml double cream, whipped
  • 2tbsp granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 240ºC.
  2. Butter and flour two layer-cake pans and line them with baking parchment. Set aside for later.
  3. Spread the hazelnuts along the bottom of an oven-safe pan and roast in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the skin cracks open and the nuts are toasted. Shake the pan every few minutes to keep the nuts from burning.
  4. Remove the nuts from the oven and pour them onto a clean kitchen towel.
  5. Reduce the heat of the oven to 150ºC.
  6. Rub energetically with the towel to remove the skins.
  7. Grind the skinned nuts with a nut grinder or food processor.
  8. Sift through the ground nuts and eliminate any large pieces.
  9. Grind the larger pieces again and add back to the rest of the ground nuts, along with the almonds.
  10. Beat the caster sugar into the egg whites a little at a time.
  11. Continue beating another few minutes after all the caster sugar has been added.
  12. Add two teaspoons of the vanilla extract and all of the lemon juice to the mixture and beat for two or three more minutes to ensure that all of the sugar has been completely dissolved into the egg whites.
  13. Carefully fold a little more than three-quarters of the ground nuts into the mixture.
  14. Pour half of the mixture into each of the buttered and floured cake pans.
  15. Bake in the 150ºC oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cakes are firm but not browned.
  16. Turn the cakes out onto wire racks and remove the baking parchment.
  17. Allow the cakes to cool.
  18. While the cakes are cooling, mix the whipped double cream with the granulated sugar and the remaining vanilla extract.
  19. Fold the rest of the nuts into the whipped cream.
  20. Place one of the cooled cake layers on a serving plate and spread the whipped cream and nut mixture on top of it.
  21. Carefully lay the second layer on top of the first and serve immediately.

 

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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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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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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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16Apr 12

Marvellous Marble Cake

Marvellous Marble CakeThis marvellous marble cake is really great for impressing your friends and family as it looks quite complicated to make, although in reality, it’s actually quite simple.  The cake is so moist and delicious that it can be served on its own, but it can also be served with chocolate or vanilla icing if you like.

For a chocolaty version of this delectable dessert, try a chocolate marble cake with chocolate icing.

 

Ingredients:

For the white part:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 110g butter, softened
  • 250g flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 125ml milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

For the brown part:

  • 110g butter, softened
  • 130g brown sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 150ml molasses
  • 250g flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp nutmeg
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 60ml milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Butter and flour an 8cm deep x 20cm wide cake pan.
  3. Make the white part of the cake:
  4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.
  5. Add half of the sugar and keep beating until the whites are stiff.
  6. Cream the butter with the rest of the sugar in a separate bowl.
  7. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and add this mixture to the butter a little at a time, alternating with the milk.  Mix well after each addition.
  8. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  9. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
  10. Make the brown part of the cake:
  11. Cream the butter with the sugar.
  12. Beat in the egg yolks.
  13. Dissolve the baking soda into the molasses in a saucepan over low heat.
  14. Sift the flour with the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a separate bowl.
  15. Combine the flour mixture with the molasses mixture.
  16. Add the flour and molasses mixture to the butter and sugar a little at a time, alternating with the milk.  Mix well after each addition.
  17. Mix both the white and brown parts together:
  18. Alternately place heaped tablespoons of the white and brown mixture into the cake pan to produce a marbled effect.
  19. Bake in the preheated oven for at least an hour or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  60 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty:  Medium

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