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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Recipes with vanilla

03Oct 12

Pecan Squares

Pecan SquaresThese deliciously satisfying pecan squares are a fantastic solution if you’re looking for an interesting dessert for a dinner party or brunch.  Use the best quality pecans you can get and keep a close eye while baking to avoid burning.

I also suggest you try my apricot and pecan cake. It makes a fantastic breakfast option!

 

Pecan Squares
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A fantastic solution if you're looking for an interesting dessert
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • 225g butter at room temperature
  • 150g brown sugar
  • ½tsp salt
  • 375g flour
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 115g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 6tbsp honey
  • 2tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2tbsp double cream
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 200g pecan halves
  • ½tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. FOR THE CRUST:
  2. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  3. Line a deep baking dish with parchment.
  4. Using an electric mixer or a food processor, mix the butter and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the salt and mix to combine.
  6. Add the flour a third at a time on medium speed and continue mixing until the dough starts to form large clumps.
  7. Press the dough into the baking dish lined with parchment to form a crust about ½ centimetre thick.
  8. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork in 10 places or so.
  9. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes.
  10. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.
  11. Transfer pan to a wire rack for cooling.
  12. FOR THE FILLING:
  13. Reduce the heat of the oven to 160ºC.
  14. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, double cream and salt in a pot over medium heat.
  15. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture sticks to the back of a spoon, about 1 minute.
  16. Remove from heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla extract.
  17. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.
  18. Bake in the 160º oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling starts to bubble.
  19. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  20. When cool, carefully lift out of the pan and place on a cutting board.
  21. Cut into 5cm squares.
  22. Can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

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14Sep 12

Triple Chocolate Cake

 Triple Chocolate CakeChocolate, chocolate and more chocolate – what more do I need to say about this triple chocolate cake recipe?!  Get baking and enjoy. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

For another rich chocolate dessert to be eaten by the spoonful, try these intense little chocolate pots. They are sinfully tantalising!

 

Triple Chocolate Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate
Ingredients
  • CHOCOLATE SPONGE:
  • 4 eggs, yolks separated from whites, whites stiffly beaten
  • 165g plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 90g semisweet chocolate, melted in 1 tablespoon of water
  • 95g plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • RICH BUTTERCREAM FILLING:
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 125ml water
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract
  • 125g semisweet chocolate
  • CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
  • 60g semisweet chocolate
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. FOR THE CHOCOLATE SPONGE:
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. Butter and flour an 8cm deep cake pan and set aside.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar to a pale foam.
  5. Gradually fold in the melted chocolate and flour, then gently fold in the egg whites.
  6. Blend thoroughly and pour into the buttered and floured cake pan.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out dry.
  8. Remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool.
  9. FOR THE RICH BUTTERCREAM FILLING:
  10. Stir the sugar and water together in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and boils.
  11. Let this syrup boil without stirring until the temperature reaches 112 to 116ºC on a candy thermometer.
  12. Remove the syrup from the heat.
  13. Whisking vigorously, pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks and keep beating until the mixture is cool, light and fluffy.
  14. Cream the butter in a separate bowl until it's very soft, then beat the butter and vanilla extract into the yolk mixture until it's shiny and firm enough to spread.
  15. Melt the chocolate in in a double saucepan over hot water, let cool and then fold into the butter cream.
  16. FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
  17. Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat while stirring.
  18. Remove from heat and bind with the beaten egg yolk.
  19. TO FINISH THE CAKE:
  20. Cut the cooled cake into 3 layers.
  21. Spread thick layers of chocolate buttercream filling between the layers and reassemble the cake.
  22. Carefully pour the rich chocolate glaze evenly over the top of the cake.

 

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06Jul 12

Traditional Pound Cake

Traditional Pound cakeThis is a recipe for traditional pound cake, just like Grandma used to make!  The reason it’s called pound cake is because of the original quantities of the main ingredients in the old imperial measuring system – a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour and a pound of eggs.  My now, doesn’t that sound healthy!?!

Well, be that as it may, this recipe has been a classic for ages, and it’s easy to see why.  Aside from being easy to remember and easy to make, it’s also very moist and delicious and loved by almost anyone with a sweet tooth!

I top my cake with icing sugar, but if you have a preference for chocolate, you could make this dark chocolate ganache to cover it.

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 190g cake flour
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • Icing sugar for dusting

                                          

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour a 25cm x 15cm x 7cm loaf pan, or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter on medium speed in an electric mixer. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until light in colour.
  4. Add the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl in order to make sure mixture is well-blended.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend in the flour, baking powder and salt just until blended.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 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.
  8. Remove the pound cake from the oven and place it on a wire cooling rack. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  9. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue to cool on the wire rack until it’s completely cool. Remove and discard the baking parchment.
  10.  Dust the top with the icing sugar and serve in slices.
  11.  Any unused cake can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature, or it may also be frozen for later use.

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  55 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty:  Easy

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03Jul 12

Nutty Meringue Cake

Nutty Meringue CakeThis nutty meringue cake is a light and nutty delight that makes for a perfect treat on a hot summer’s day. Although the end result is quite impressive and looks like it was difficult to make, the process itself is actually rather simple.  Just be careful to not leave the meringues in the oven too long so that they don’t burn!

For a fruity meringue flavour, try this iced fruit mountains and hot chocolate snow recipe.

Nutty Meringue Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 1.5tbsp cornflour
  • 55g peanuts, shelled
  • 55g almonds
  • 6 stiffly beaten egg whites
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Butter and flour a baking sheet and two standard sized flan rings (about 23cm wide by 2-3cm deep).
  3. Place the rings on top of the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Mix together the granulated sugar and cornflour.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared rings and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the meringue cool in the rings.
  8. While the meringues are cooling, grind the peanuts and almonds together in a blender or food processor. Put them in a bowl and mix them with the cream cheese, vanilla extract and all but 1 tablespoon of the icing sugar. This is the icing mixture.
  9. Mix well and ensure that the icing is well blended.
  10. Remove the rings from the two meringues.
  11. The side that was touching the baking sheet will be very flat. Place one of the meringues on a serving plate with this side down.
  12. Spread about 75% of the icing evenly on top of the bottom meringue layer.
  13. Place the other layer of meringue on top of the icing and bottom layer.
  14. Use a spatula to spread the rest of the icing over the sides of the cake, partly covering the top meringue layer.
  15. Put the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a sieve and sprinkle over top of the meringue to create a light chocolate blanket.
  16. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  17. Serve cold, cut into small wedges.

 

 

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29Jun 12

Pear and Nut Bread

Pear and Nut BreadThis sweet and spicy pear and nut bread makes for a great Christmas cake and also works very well as a carry-along snack for school or a car-trip out in the country.  It also goes great with a nice warm cup of tea, especially Earl Grey or English Breakfast.  I like to use hazelnuts, but walnuts also work very well. (For a chocolaty treat, try these poached pears with a hot white chocolate liqueur sauce.)

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears, peeled and cored
  • 110g butter, softened
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 240g cake flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 250g seedless raisins
  • 250g chopped hazelnuts

 

Instructions:

  1. Cut two of the peeled and cored pears into 1.5cm slices.
  2. Place the pears in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, uncovered over high heat, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
  3. Purée the cooked pears in a food processor until they attain the consistency of applesauce. You should have about 250ml. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  5. Grease and flour a 25 x 15 x 7 centimetre loaf pan, or line with baking parchment. Set aside.
  6. In an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until light in colour.
  7. Add the pear purée and vanilla extract and mix just until blended.
  8. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  9. On low speed, gradually add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix just until blended.
  10.  Dice the two remaining pears and stir into the batter along with the raisins and nuts.
  11.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  12.  Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes.
  13.  Carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue to cool on the wire cooling rack. Remove and discard the parchment.
  14.  Serve slightly warm or wrap in foil and store at room temperature.

 

Prep Time:  25 minutes

Cooking Time:  60 minutes

Serves:  10

Difficulty:  Medium

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26Jun 12

Basic Sponge Cake

Basic Sponge cakeThis is a basic sponge cake recipe which can be eaten on its own with a cup of tea or topped with fresh fruit. It freezes very well, so I like to have some around to take out as a quick base for any sponge cake recipe when time is of the essence.

As it’s just a plain sponge cake, it really goes well with just about any topping or frosting you can think of, so use your imagination and get creative!  Drizzle some dark chocolate ganache over the top, smother it in whipped cream, or pour a cappuccino on it. The possibilities are endless!

If you decide to freeze it, wrap it in aluminium foil and then clingfilm for best results.

Ingredients:

  • 7 egg whites at room temperature
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 145g cake flour
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 65ml cold water

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 165ºC.
  2. In an electric mixer with a wire whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, 50g of the granulated sugar, the cream of tartar and the salt. Start on medium speed, then use high speed until very stiff peaks form, around 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, 250g of the sugar and the vanilla extract with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until light in colour, around 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the cake flour and water to the egg mixture alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until blended.
  5. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites with a rubber spatula and blend well.
  6. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 25cm circular cake pan. Make sure you spread the batter evenly.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  8. Remove pan from the oven and invert to cool the cake for about 1 hour.
  9. When the sponge is cool, carefully remove it from the pan. Use a sharp knife to loosen the outside of the cake from the sides of the pan.

 

Prep Time:  25 minutes

Cooking Time:  65 minutes

Serves:  15

Difficulty:  Medium

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20Jun 12

Almond Pound Cake with Fresh Strawberries

Almond Pound Cake with Fresh StrawberriesA bit of a twist on the classic pound cake recipe, this almond pound cake with fresh strawberries is the perfect treat for a summer afternoon.  I like to use brown sugar to sweeten the strawberries as I find it gives them a more nuanced flavour, but if you don’t like the taste, you can substitute normal white granulated sugar.  In fact, if the berries are sweet enough, you can omit the sugar altogether for a slightly more healthy version. (Also try strawberries with Grana Padano and honey.)

 

Ingredients:

  • 165g butter, softened
  • 190g cake flour
  • 180ml almond paste
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 180ml milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 500g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 150ml double cream

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour a 25cm x 15cm x 7cm loaf pan, or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter on medium speed in an electric mixer. Add the almond paste and continue mixing until smooth.
  4. Gradually add sugar and beat until light in colour.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Add the vanilla extract.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add this mixture to the batter alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just blended.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  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.  While the cake is baking, prepare the strawberries: Mix the hulled and sliced strawberries with the brown sugar, stirring well to coat all the berries with sugar.  Set aside for at least 10 minutes so that the berries release their juice.
  11.  Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes.
  12.  Carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue cooling on the wire cooling rack.
  13.  When the cake has cooled, cut into slices and top with a couple of tablespoons of the strawberry and brown sugar mixture.
  14.  Drizzle a little double cream over the top and serve.

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  55 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty:  Easy

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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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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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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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