Puddings and Cakes

Absolutely OTT Six-Layer Chocolate Birthday Bonanza Cake

Six layers of really moist, chocolately sponge sandwiched together with fabulous butter cream that is in a luxurious league of its own because of the inclusion of melted dark chocolate: this cake, if I say so myself, is stunning – very yummy and very moreish. It’s also my favourite chocolate cake recipe that I use for pretty much all chocolate cakes (first blogged as the ‘365 Chocolate Celebration Cake). The silliness that is the decoration is just me playing with ready-made fondant, glitters, shimmers and other cake-decorating play things!

What you need…

3 x 20cm round cake tins (ideally loose bottomed) liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1½ x sponge cake recipe from the 365 chocolate celebration cake

2 x chocolate butter cream recipe from the 365 chocolate celebration cake

for the decoration

1500g Renshaw ready to roll (fondant) icing

A selection of edible shimmers, glitters, silver balls, whatever your fancy to create and an absolutely OTT cake!

Super-long cake candles (Amazon)

Cake Ice Fountain (Amazon, Lakeland)

What to do…

Follow the 365 chocolate celebration cake recipes to create three chocolate sponges and butter icing.

When you are ready to assemble the cake, cut each sponge in half horizontally. Lay one sponge onto your cake plate and slather in a little butter cream. Keep adding sponge layers with butter cream until all the sponge layers are used. Trim the edges of your six-layer sponge cake if necessary (mine weren’t even) and then slather the top and sides in butter cream, creating a smooth even surface and edging on which to drape your fondant.

Roll out 1000g of the icing to about the depth of a £1 coin and drape it over the cake, tucking and folding to fit – I find this bit particularly difficult and ended up having a couple of bits that wrapped around the side and then a jigsaw on the top – it doesn’t matter! Smooth the icing to the best of your ability.

Roll out the remaining icing and use a plate as a template cut around to make a circle to sit onto your jigsaw top. Use butter cream as a glue to stick the circle to the jigsaw top and then decorate as you see fit! (I went a bit mad!)

Allow 24 hours for the fondant to dry.

Serve to an unsuspecting birthday girl, don’t ask her to blow out the firework in the middle and enjoy this totally delicious cake!

Tips…

I made two sponges one day and then froze them once cold. I made the third sponge a second day and again froze it. The day that I wanted to assemble the cake, I sliced the sponges in half horizontally whilst still partially frozen – much easier to achieve a straight and clean cut.

Inspired by…

365 chocolate cake and ‘The Essential Guide to Cake Decorating’ book

How easy….

I’ve got the sponge nailed now. Me and fondant icing however…..work in progress…

No Churn Lemon Curd and Limoncello Ice Cream

Wow! Lemon Curd and Limoncello Ice Cream – where to start?! This glorious ice cream is rich and creamy whilst also lemon-tangy and refreshing. It’s sweet but not too sweet and then we have the not insubstantial quantity of the fabulous Limoncello Italian liqueur running through it – this element tips the ice cream into the realms of grown up and quite sensational. Enjoy on a hot summers day or to conclude a lovely dinner. Or – in the name of the blog – at just after midday on a Monday!!!! Any excuse! It truly is scrumptious though and dead easy to make!

What you need…

600ml double cream

397g (1 tin) condensed milk

340g jar lemon curd (homemade or shop-bought)

180ml Limoncello Italian lemon liqueur

What to do…

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk, lemon curd and Limoncello and use a balloon whisk to gently fold them in so that they are all evenly incorporated. Taste. Add in a little more Limoncello if required (!)

Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Tip…

Once out of the freezer, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the consistency whereby you can easily scoop it out.

Inspired by…

Sharron from our local village newsletter.

 How easy…

Easy and fast enough to create regularly and at the drop of a hat!

Blackberry Jam Lattice Tart

A little blackberry obsessed, I’ve been gently but regularly foraging the locality, picking blackberries for tarts, ripples, sorbets or just for the lusciousness of grabbing a handful of fresh, free fruit. Anyway, as much as I like trialling different pastry recipes, sometimes I just want a quick tart made with cheat’s pastry! Whop it together, pop it in the oven and enjoy! This one didn’t disappoint – takes no time to make (unless you’re silly enough to plait some of the lattice topping – very relaxing though) and just a wonderful reminder of sun-warmed early Autumnal days.

What you need…

1 x 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, liberally buttered and lined on the bottom with parchment paper

1 x 450g packet sweet dessert short crust pastry mix (I used Sainsbury’s)

9 tablespoons cold water

Plain flour, for dusting.

500g blackberries

450g jam sugar

Juice ½ lemon

1 egg, lightly beaten

Caster sugar, for sprinkling

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

Put the berries in a large heavy-based pan over a low eat with the sugar and lemon juice. Gently heat and fold the sugar into the blackberries until dissolved. Bring the fruit to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally and let the fruit simmer for about 10-12 minutes. Allow your yummy jam to cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, use a fork to mix the water into your pastry mix to form a soft dough (delight in how easy this is!) Dust your work surface with the flour and roll out the pastry dough in a rough circle slightly larger than the tart tin. Drape the pastry into the tin, gently pushing it into the edges. Trim off the excess pastry, briefly knead the excess to form a ball and then roll out into a long, thin rectangle. Use a sharp knife to cut thin strips that will be used to form the lattice top.

Plop the jam into the pastry case. Brush the edges with beaten egg and then create your lattice top. I fiddled about with mine, weaving under and over but you don’t need to be that pedantic – create your topping as you wish! Brush the lattice work with beaten egg, sprinkle with caster sugar and pop the tart into the oven, baking for 30 minutes, turn the pie around and cook for another 5 -10 minutes, just to make sure that your tart is evenly golden all over.

Allow your lovely jammy tart to cool a little. If you can’t wait and want to indulge in your tart whilst it is warm, the jam will still be runny and oozingly gorgeous; if you allow it to cool properly, then you will have a set jam filling. If, like us, you dig in practically immediately and then return for seconds a couple of hours later, you get to enjoy both experiences!

If you’re luck enough to have a thermomix…

Use this marvellous little machine to make the jam whilst you’re faffing around with the pastry: chuck the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice into the mixing bowl and blend for 10 seconds/speed 6. Cook for 28 minutes/varoma/speed 1, inserting the simmering basket rather than the measuring cup to prevent splashing. Job done!

Berry Jam Lattice Tart w

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Really easy, whether you use a saucepan or the thermomix and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional pre-made pastry mix!

 

 

Pineapple Steeped in Kirsch

I don’t suppose I can really call this a recipe, but it’s definitely worth sharing. This dessert is gorgeously refreshing and tangy BUT with a definite kick – the sweet, juicy flavour of the pineapple combined with the subtle (but extremely alcoholic) taste of the Kirsch cherry liqueur is simply sublime. A lovely dessert, summer or winter, but especially good after something really spicy, e.g. a hot curry.

What you need…

1 ripe pineapple

80ml Kirsch liqueur

Sprig of mint, to garnish (optional)

What to do…

Cut the pineapple in half lengthways, remove the flesh and discard the core. Chunk the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Tip the pineapple chunks into a bowl, pour over the Kirsch and cover with cling film. Give the whole lot a good shake and then pop into the fridge overnight to allow the wonderful flavours to develop.

Serve the Kirsch-steeped pineapple chunks on their own or with a dollop of double cream or natural yogurt. That’s it – couldn’t be easier and very well worth the minimal effort!

Tip…

You might want to shake the bowl every now and then whilst it’s ‘gathering’ in the fridge, just to make sure the Kirsch is evenly distributed.

A little bit about Kirsch…

Produced mainly in Germany, but also in Switzerland and the Alsace region of France, Kirsch’s full name is kirsch wasser (pronounced vasser), meaning cherry water. Originating from the Black Forest, in the Southern area of the country, it’s an eau de vie (a type of brandy) made by double-distilling the fermented juice of the sour morello cherry. As it’s not aged in contact with wood (barrels are coated with wax to prevent this happening), kirsch is clear in colour, and the flavour subtley hints at its cherry origins, rather than being sweet and cloying.

Inspired by…

Absolutely no idea! Have been knocking this little one up for years!

How easy…

Simples!

Connagh’s Weight-Training Birthday Cake!

Serves 16+

I’m not sure how many of you would want to create a birthday cake designed to look like gym weights (or even if you think I have pulled it off!) but just in case, this is the recipe for my son’s 18th birthday cake. Despite it’s appearance, the cake is absolutely decadently delicious, moist, sweet and very far removed from anything related to fitness!!!!! Happy 18th Birthday Connagh! xx

What you need…

1 x 23cm cake tin, 1 x 20cm cake tin and 1 x 15cm cake tin, all spring form ideally and liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper.

1 x 35.5cm cake board

1 small deep cookie cutter (to cut the hole in the top ‘weight’)

340g unsalted butter, room temperature

340g caster sugar

6 eggs

1 dessertspoon vanilla extract

140g milk

225g self-raising flour

85g cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

for the chocolate butter cream

100g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

200g unsalted butter, room temperature

400g icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the decoration

750g Renshaw ready-to-roll black fondant icing

Icing sugar for dusting

Royal icing sugar and water for letter-writing

Disposable icing bag with No. 2 writing tube

A couple of tablespoons of vodka in a water spray bottle (see tip!)

1 x weight-training rubber duck! (optional!)

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350° / gas 4.

Using a food processor, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Whilst it’s still beating, add in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix in.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Then, add in the ingredients from the food processor and, using a balloon whisk, fold together all the ingredients until they are thoroughly blended. Divide the chocolate sponge mixture between the three cake tins.

Bake the sponges in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes until the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out dry.Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tins and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the butter cream, made especially gorgeous by the use of the melted chocolate.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water. Gently melt the chocolate and then set aside until it is cool enough to touch.

In a separate bowl, sieve in the icing sugar and then, using a handheld electric whisk, beat together with the butter. Add the vanilla essence and then tip in the warm chocolate. Use your whisk again to mix together, ensuring that the ingredients are evenly and thoroughly blended. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Halve each sponge horizontally, slather one half with butter cream and then return the other halves back on top. Set aside.

Take 250g of the fondant icing and roll it out thinly on an icing sugar-dusted surface so that it is big enough to cover the top and sides of the largest sponge. Use a small spatula to cover the top and sides of the largest sponge in butter cream, smoothing as best you can. Drape the rolled out fondant over the cake, smoothing it across the top and sides and then trim the sides to the bottom of the cake, tucking the edges of the fondant in neatly around the bottom.

Place the fondant-covered cake onto a cake board.

Take another 250g of the fondant icing and repeat the butter cream and fondant draping process for the middle-sized cake – you don’t have to roll it out quite to thinly this time though. Place this second sponge on top of the first.

Take your cookie cutter and cut a hole in the centre of the smallest sponge. Then take the final 250g fondant and repeat the butter cream and fondant draping process for the last time. This time however, poke a small hole into the centre of the rolled out fondant before draping over the smallest sponge. Then, when the fondant is smoothed over, carefully make four cuts away from the small hole (to create and ‘X’) and then fold the ‘flaps’ down the sides of the hole. Place this final sponge on top of the other two.

To ‘write’ on your cake, mix together sifted royal icing sugar with a tiny amount of cold water to create a gloopy texture – not quite stiff. Spoon into your piping back and go for it, praying for a steady hand – this process is NOT part of my skill set but I do persist in trying!!!!

Leave the cake overnight/for 24 hours for the icing to dry and set – this inside sponge will still be moist and lovely so don’t worry.

When you’re ready to celebrate, pop on candles, sing Happy Birthday and dive in – a delightful, moist, rich decadent sponge – yummy!

Tip…

If your black fondant is streaked with icing sugar, spray a little vodka over the cake and then dab with kitchen paper – the streaks will magically disappear!

Inspired by…

My son, Connagh, who threw down the design challenge. The sponge is based on the 365 Celebration Cake, already blogged.

How easy…

The sponges and butter cream are dead easy. The draping of the fondant and icing-writing fill me with dread but…they’re not that bad as long as we’re not trying to look professional!!!

 

 

 

Exotically Naughty Turkish-Inspired No Churn Coffee and Cardamom Ice Crea

 

So, just a couple of weeks ago I pronounced my take on a no churn coffee and Kahlua ice cream to be stratospherically stupendous and sinfully good. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve made it – the freezer is never without a freshly made tub. But last time, I took one third of the basic mixture and added cardamom seeds, the inclusion of which have created an extra dimension to this lovely frozen dessert: a wonderful aromatic, slightly spicy and exotic Middle-Eastern flavour that somehow intensifies the coffee – fabulous! The only problem we now have is which version we prefer the most – with or without the cardamoms!!!! Anyway, I felt the need to share this slight twist on my original recipe. Another ‘naughty but gorgeous’ addition to our growing list of sinful desserts!

What you need…

600ml double cream

397g (1 tin) condensed milk

4 espresso coffees/200ml VERY strong coffee (cold)

2 tablespoons camp coffee

4 tablespoons Kahlua/coffee liqueur

12 – 15 cardamom seeds

What to do….

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Pour in the cold espresso, Camp coffee, Kahlua and cardamom seeds and stir to incorporate. Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer for at least 6 hours. Indulge, enjoy and immerse yourself into this exotic, sinfully delightful ice cream – just keep going – it’s hard to stop!

Tip…

Once out of the freezer, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the consistency whereby you can easily scoop it out.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry is responsible for the base no-churn ice cream. Since making her Honeycomb ice cream, I have started experimenting with other flavours – this and a Limoncello and Lemon Curd one (not yet blogged) being the latest…to be frank, it’s becoming a little obsessional and ever so slightly addictive!

How easy…

Stupidly! And it’s quick. What’s not to like?!

Sensationally Sinful No Churn Coffee and Kahlua Ice Cream

Having experimented with three ice cream flavours last week, I went back and quadrupled the recipe for this one – seriously it falls under the heading of ‘stratospherically stupendous and sinfully good!’ I’m not joking – it’s also REALLY addictive (I can practically hear it whispering from the freezer, ‘have some more, you know you want to!’ Moving on to the practicalities, it’s also so easy and quick to make and the result is luscious, decadent, silky smooth and tantalisingly tempting! Make it once and you’ll be hooked!!!

What you need…

600ml double cream

397g (1 tin) condensed milk

4 espresso coffees/200ml VERY strong coffee (cold)

2 tablespoons camp coffee

4 tablespoons Kahlua/coffee liqueur

What to do….

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Pour in the cold espresso, Camp coffee and Kahlua and stir to incorporate. Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer.

Wait at least 6 hours. Go to your freezer armed with a sundae spoon and check them out. Invite husband and anyone else to do the same, proclaiming which one you prefer whilst continuing to taste-test. If there’s any left, serve in cones, bowls, casual or posh. Mostly, enjoy!

Tip…

Once frozen, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the consistency whereby you can easily scoop it out.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry is responsible for the base no-churn ice cream. The coffee flavouring combination is a thing of beauty that woke me up at 3am one morning whilst I mulled over the ratios!!!

How easy…

Ridiculously which is worrying – I think a tub of this will be a permanent resident in our freezer!

 

Coffee & Kahlua Aff

Coffee and Kahlua Affogato

 

Simply dollop some of your coffee and kahlua ice ream into the bottom of a pretty glass and top up with a single, cold espresso (or hot if you want the whole lot to mix together to create some kind of a rather wicked cocktail!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Trio of Easy-Peasy, No-Churn Luscious Ice Creams

Where to start with this one! All three ice creams were made on a whim this week when it was absolutely scorching outside. The base recipe is that of Mary Berry’s Honeycomb Ice Cream (we all know what it’s supposed to be called but I get in trouble for that). Anyway, so I took 1 huge tub of double cream and whisked it up, then folded in the splendid but absurdly naughty condensed milk, divided the mixture into bowls and stirred in the distinct flavourings of choice (as we couldn’t agree on a single favourite). Whopped them into the freezer for 6 hours and that was it– job done – delicious, delectable ice cream – the strawberry is fresh, exquisite and just shouts ‘English summer’, the rum and raisin is definitely an ‘after dinner’ number and boy, can you taste the rum and finally, the coffee and Kahlua – the favourite of the three – luscious, decadent, silky smooth and almost alluring in its temptation! Hmmm, which one(s) will you try…?

What you need…

(N.B. this recipe makes double the strawberry ice cream to the quantities of the other 2 flavours)

600ml double cream

397g (1 tin) condensed milk

for Cindy’s strawberry ice cream

100g strawberries

for John’s rum and raisin ice cream

A large handful raisins

2 tablespoons rum

for Connagh’s coffee and Kahlua ice cream

1 espresso coffee/50ml VERY strong coffee

½ tablespoon camp coffee

1 tablespoon Kahlua/coffee liqueur

What to do….

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Spoon ¼ of the cream mix into a smaller second bowl and then another ¼ of the mixture into a third bowl.

Pop the strawberries into your food processor and whizz until they are slightly mushy with little chunks in. Toss them into the large bowl and gently stir to incorporate. Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer.

Into bowl 2, tip the rum and raisins and stir to incorporate. Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer.

Into bowl 3, pour the cold espresso, Camp coffee and Kahlua and stir to incorporate. Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer.

Wait at least 6 hours. Go to your freezer armed with a sundae spoon and check them out. Invite husband and anyone else to do the same, proclaiming which one you prefer whilst continuing to taste-test. If there’s any left, serve in cones, bowls, casual or posh. Mostly, enjoy!

Inspired by…

Originally, by granddaughter, Georgia, who needed a little help when she was enjoying a local West Sussex strawberry ice cream. So taken was I with the unique gorgeousness of the authentic strawberry flavour that I determined to emulate it with my own recipe. The base recipe is Mary Berry’s; the flavourings are related to the cravings of individual family members! Sooooo happy!!!

How easy…

Ridiculously! This could become yet another naughty little addiction!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limoncello Drizzle Cake

One of my favourite cakes to quickly whizz up is lemon drizzle cake so when I saw this recipe I did wonder if it was perhaps mucking about with something that was already perfect but…I was wrong: the inclusion of the limoncello syrup makes this cake even more luscious, moist and generally gorgeous. Also, the inclusion of alcohol precludes sharing with all but the most grown up of kids!!!! Try it – so simple, so delicious!

Serves 8 – 10 or just John and I!

What you need…

1 x 2 litre loaf tin, buttered and lined with baking parchment

200g unsalted butter, softened

200g caster sugar

4 large, happy eggs, beaten

150g ground almonds

50g plain flour

4 tablespoons limoncello liqueur

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon baking powder

for the syrup

Juice of 2 lemons (those used for the zest in sponge above)

50g granulated sugar

60ml limoncello liqueur

for the crunchy topping

Juice of 1 lemon

60g granulated sugar

What to do…

Heat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Tip the butter and caster sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and creamy. Whilst still whizzing, gradually add the eggs, ensuring that each addition is thoroughly incorporated before adding any more.

Remove the mixing blade from your food processor and then tip in the almonds, flour, limoncello, lemon zest and baking powder, using a balloon whisk to gently fold in to the egg mixture.

Pour the mixture into your loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the syrup ingredients gently in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Use your skewer again to poke holes all over the surface of the cake and then slowly pour over the syrup, watching is soak in and knowing how lovely this cake is going to be!.

For the crunchy topping, mix together the remaining lemon juice and sugar and spoon evenly over the top. Leave the cake to cool in the tin (well, you’re supposed to but I couldn’t wait that long and had the first piece warm – delightful!) Turn out and cut into nice fat slices. Devour. Have another slice. Repeat.

 A little about limoncello…

A lovely, sweet Italian lemon liqueur that I really took to last year when we stayed on the Amalfi Coast and it regularly appeared at the end of our meals as a little ‘thank you’ for our custom. To serve in small chilled glasses straight from the freezer is quite heavenly…and one glass is never enough!

 Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

 How easy…

A bit of whizzing and a little stirring: very easy and the returns are many times greater than the effort!

 

Almond, Strawberry and Rhubarb Cake

A deliciously moist little summer cake perfect for a lazy afternoon in the garden. The strawberries and rhubarb in combination with the hint of ground almonds create a wonderful little tryst of flavours. Served with crème fraiche or sweetened yogurt completes this summery treat and it would surely go well with a cold glass of fizz or pudding wine. Pull up a deck chair and relax!!!!

Serves 10 – 12

What you need…

1 x 20cm round spring form tin, liberally buttered and lined with baking parchment

175g unsalted butter, softened

175g golden caster sugar

2 large happy eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

175g self-raising flour

A pinch of salt

50g ground almonds

4 tablespoons natural yogurt

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

100g rhubarb, chunkily sliced

150g strawberries, hulled and halved

2 tablespoons raspberry jam

1 tablespoon boiling water from the kettle

A sprinkling of flaked almonds

A sifting of icing sugar

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Tip the butter and sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and creamy. Whilst still whizzing, gradually pour in the eggs and vanilla extract. Tip in the flour, salt and ground almonds and briefly whizz to fully incorporate.

Remove the mixing blade from the processor and pour in the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, using a balloon whisk to gently but thoroughly fold in until smooth. Spoon into the tin and level the surface with a spatula. Arrange the fruit on top, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Then, remove the foil and pop back into the oven to bake for a further 15 minutes until cooked through and golden.

Cool for 15 minutes in the tin and then gently remove the tin sides and bottom as well as the baking parchment (I left the bottom piece on for fear of breaking the cake, just taking off the side bits) and cool on a wire rack.

Once cool, use a little balloon whisk to mix together the jam and hot water before drizzling it over the cake. Then sprinkle over the toasted almonds and sift over the icing sugar. This lovely, moist little summer cake is ready to be indulged in!

Serving suggestion…

Crème fraiche if you have it. I didn’t but mixed a little pre-made sugar syrup (a staple in our house, mainly for Maddie’s cocktails) with left over natural yogurt – bloody lovely!

Inspired by…

Woman and Home magazine

How easy…

Really quite effortless