Tag Archives: cake

Spruced Up Christmas Spice Cake

What a Christmas gift this is!!!! Such a lovely sponge: light and gently spiced with tantalising flavours and scents so very evocative of Christmas. An absolute doddle to do, this will appear on our festive menu more than once I can assure you! Confession time: the wonderful snow-topped mountain appearance cannot be attributed to my baking skills but rather the moulding of this very special ‘Holiday Fir’ baking tin. If you can’t get hold of an exact replica, a bundt tin will do the job nicely although perhaps not quite so festive in appearance. Either way: give the cake a go – its gorgeous!

Serves around 12

What you need…

1 x baking sheet

1 x ‘Holiday Fir’ or 2.5-litre bundt tin, thoroughly buttered

225g butter, softened

300g caster sugar

6 eggs

350g plain flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon cloves, ground

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

250g plain yogurt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

A good dousing of icing-sugar for snowy mountaintops!

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4 and pop in your baking sheet.

Tip the butter and caster sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and fluffy.

Meanwhile, use a balloon whisk to gently beat the eggs together in a jug.

Gradually pour the eggs into the mixture whilst the food processor is still whizzing, incorporating each bit before pouring in the next. Once all the eggs have been added, tip in the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. Whizz until thoroughly mixed in. Finally, tip in the yogurt and vanilla extract and whizz again to incorporate.

Tip the mixture into your baking tin and then place in the oven on top of the hot baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Let the cake sit in its tin for 15 minutes then gently ease the edges away from the tin with your fingers. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Find a gorgeous plate to serve your spruced up Christmas spice cake on and then dust liberally with icing sugar, humming a festive tune whilst gazing at the ‘snow’ settling on the sponge mountain tops – a lovely sight followed by a delicious taste (although it is a shame to cut into this most beautiful of things!)

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Just a whizz!

‘First Birthday’ Victoria Sandwich

I know: a classic and let’s face it – it’s not difficult! But this was made today as I realised that 7th November marks the first birthday of the official launch of my little foodie blog! 365 days and 195 recipes later…what’s a girl gonna do? Celebrate with cake!!!! Light as can be and quite simply delicious!

Serves 8 (or just 2 of us!)

What you need…

2 x 20cm sandwich tins, lightly buttered and lined with parchment paper/baking liner

225g unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened

225g caster sugar

4 happy eggs, lightly beaten

225g self raising flour

Icing sugar for dusting

for the filling

4 tablespoons raspberry jam

1 tablespoon caster sugar

200ml double cream

What to do…

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

Tip the butter and caster sugar into your food processor and whizz until the mixture is pale and fluffy – the paler, the better: it means that there’s more air in it and that the cake will be lighter.

Gradually pour in the eggs, whizzing the whole time and making sure that each time you pour a little in, it is fully incorporated before you pour in the next bit.

Tip in the flour and whizz again until evenly mixed together.

Pour the mixture into your two prepared cake tins, trying to get the same amount in each.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until lightly golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Cool in their tins for 10 minutes and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool down completely.

Put one sponge, top side down, on your serving plate or cake stand. Use a palette knife to spread the jam generously and evenly across the surface.

Tip the 1 tablespoon of caster sugar into a small mixing bowl with the cream and use an electric handheld whisk to beat the cream into stiff peaks. Either spread or pipe the cream on top of the jam. Gently place the remaining sponge – top side up – on top and then dust with icing sugar.

Cut and serve generous portions with a lovely cup of tea or a glass of fizz, depending on your mood!

victoria-sandwich-2-w_1

Inspired by…

Tradition. Any excuse to make a cake. First birthday for my foodie blog. And Delicious magazine!

How easy…

A really quick, easy cake that can be made in a flash with ingredients that you’re likely to have in the kitchen already.

 

 

Nectarine, Almond and Polenta Cake with Marsala Mascarpone

Yum: I’m not sure if this recipe comes from Sicily, where Marsala originates, but it certainly tastes like it does! A dense and exceptionally moist, sweet sponge created by in the inclusion of nectarine pulp, Marsala, polenta, almonds and olive oil, this cake is absolutely delicious served with the sweet, rich and Marsala-infused mascarpone and when you complete the dish with a couple of slices of ripe nectarines, it’s just wonderful and so very, very summery. An added bonus is that it keeps really well for a couple of days if you don’t demolish it all on the first!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

150g caster sugar

3 ripe nectarines plus a further 3-4 to serve (depending on how many of you are having your cake and eating it!)

125ml sweet Marsala wine

190ml extra virgin olive oil

240g caster sugar

100g polenta

250g ground almonds

3 large eggs, beaten

for the Marsala mascarpone

500g mascarpone

100g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

4 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 170°c / 325°f / gas.

Fill a large saucepan with water and add the caster sugar. Bring to the boil and gently drop in the nectarines. Turn down the heat and gently poach them for 30 minutes, until tender.

Drain the nectarines and cool. Slice the fruit off the stone and pop the flesh into your food processor. Add the 125 ml Marsala and whizz to a purée, Add the remaining cake ingredients and whizz again to create a smooth batter. Pour into your cake tin and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, use a handheld electric whisk to beat together all the ingredients for the Marsala mascarpone ‘cream’. Also, slice up the remaining nectarines, discarding the stones.

Pop the cooled cake onto a pretty serving plate and dust with icing sugar, arrange some nectarine slices on the top and offer the remaining slices to your fellow cake eaters together with the lovely Marsala mascarpone – delightfully delicious.

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine online

How easy…

Ridiculously! And it can be made ahead.

Espresso and Cardamom Cake with Pistachios

 

What can I tell you? The combination of coffee and cardamom is a blessed one -utterly sublime. The sponge for this cake also manages to combine being unbelievably light with gorgeously luscious; and then there’s the topping, which is nothing short of luxurious. There’s a warm, very, very gentle spice to this cake which adds a touch of something richly exotic but ultimately…..it’s a great cake and dead easy to make!

What you need…

1 large baking sheet

1 x 20cm round baking tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

50g shelled unsalted pistachios

Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods, ground to a fine powder (see tip)

115g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

115g butter, room temperature

2 large eggs

115g golden caster sugar

1 espresso coffee, cooled

for the syrup

1 espresso coffee, freshly made and still hot

Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods, ground to a fine powder

1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

for the topping

250g mascarpone

1 espresso coffee, cooled

1 tablespoon golden caster sugar

1 tablespoon milk

50g shelled pistachios

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 170°c / 325°f / gas 3.

Lay out all the pistachios onto your baking sheet and pop into the oven for 8 minutes to roast. Remove and divide into 2 halves of 50g each. Chop 50g finely. Leave the other half of nuts whole to decorate the top of the cake.

Into your food processor tip the flour and baking powder. Whizz to mix together. Add the butter, eggs, caster sugar, espresso and seeds from 10 cardamom pods. Whizz until smooth and creamy.

Fold in the 50g chopped nuts and when evenly incorporated, tip the mixture into your baking tin. Pop into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. To test if the sponge is cooked, press the centre lightly with your little finger – it should spring back.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrup by putting all the ingredients into a jug and use a balloon whisk to beat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

To make the topping, put all the ingredients except the nuts, into a bowl and use a handheld electric whisk to beat together until a fluffy consistency that will be easy to spread. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until needed.

Once the cake is out of the oven, prick all over with a skewer and then sprinkle the syrup evenly over the top. Leave in the tin to cool completely.

When you’re ready to serve, transfer the cake from the baking tin onto a pretty serving plate. Pile on the topping spread evenly. Take a palette knife around the edge if you want a neat finish. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top. Voila! It’s done. Serve with a freshly made espresso and perhaps a little coffee liqueur on the side. Absolutely delightful and delectably different from your usual sponge cake!

Tip…

To extract the seeds from cardamom pods, bash them a bit using a pestle in a mortar (or in a small zip-lock bag and a rolling pin). Open up the pods and push out the seeds with a teaspoon.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Really easy – just the way I like ‘em!

 

 

 

Rhubarb and Amaretti Cake with Orange and Rosemary Glaze

Once finished, I thought that this was quite an unassuming looking cake, but once tasted – WOW – I completely changed my mind. It is the reason the word ‘luscious’ was invented, surely! This cake is moist and the combination of the rosemary and orange is a marriage made in heaven. Ground almonds, as part of a list of cake ingredients, are fast becoming a favourite as their inclusion automatically guarantees a lovely moist, moreish sponge. And then the rhubarb: just yum, yum, yum: another one to add to your ‘must try’ list.

Serves 10-12

What you need…

1 x 23cm loose-bottomed fluted tart tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

225g unsalted butter, cut into chunks

200g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Zest of 2 oranges, finely grated

200g ground almonds

50g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 amaretti biscuits, broken into small chunks

2 sticks rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 6cm pieces and halved lengthways to produce 12 – 16 lengths

Granulated sugar to sprinkle

for the glaze

Juice of 1 orange

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

20g granulated sugar

Squeeze fresh lemon juice

What to do…

Into your food processor, chuck the butter and sugar and whizz until they are combined, pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and whizz some more to disperse. Whilst whizzing, gradually add the eggs, making sure that each addition is fully mixed in before pouring in some more.

Tip in the orange zest, almonds, flour and baking powder and whizz to evenly combine. Remove the plastic blending blade from your food processor and then gently stir in the amaretti chunks.

Tip the lot into your tart tin. Gently push in the rhubarb pieces in a spoke pattern, leaving them two thirds uncovered (they will sink in the oven).

Bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake becomes mainly golden brown before the cake is properly cooked through, loosely cover with foil for the remaining baking time.

Leave to cool in its tin for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle the tart tin. Remove from the tin (whilst still on its base) and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrup: into a saucepan, tip the orange juice, rosemary and sugar. Heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice. Taste. Add more if the syrup is still too sweet for your taste.

Once both the cake and syrup are cool, pierce the cake all over with a skewer and then gently and slowly pour over the syrup, pausing whilst it sinks in, if necessary.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar and then take your first slice…OMG…just so luscious. It’s moist and completely delicious. Prepare to take a second slice – you won’t want to say ‘no’!.

Amaretti cake 2 w

Observation…

In the original recipe, the rhubarb could clearly be seen from the top of the cake, but mine had sunk to the bottom. To be honest: who cares? Mine was still attractive and the cake was absolutely luscious, moist and gorgeous!

Inspired by….

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Very: measure out, whizz, arrange rhubarb, bake and then pour over syrup and sprinkle sugar. Most taxing part: saying no to more!

Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake

There’s a tradition in this house that at 6pm on a Friday evening, John and I will convene at our bar (!) for a G&T and review of the week’s activities. Call it an excuse if you like but it is our official and very enjoyable end to the week and beginning of the weekend. Anyway, this week an unfortunately planned 7.30pm appointment that involved driving put paid to this long-standing custom but all was not lost – my friend, Dawn had alerted me to a recipe for a G&T cake and coincidentally, I found the basis for this one on Friday morning. Clearly, a ‘meant to be’ recipe, tried, tasted and thoroughly enjoyed as a preamble to the delayed drinkie session. The freshness of the lime works really well with the gentle background flavour of gin. It’s dead easy to knock up and a great alternative adult version to a traditional drizzle cake – give it a bash – cheers!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 900g loaf tin, lightly buttered and lined with parchment paper

200g unsalted butter, cubed

200g caster sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

200g self-raising flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Zest of 1 large lime, finely grated

75ml gin

for the syrupy topping

125g caster sugar

125ml tonic water

3½ tablespoons gin

Juice of 1 large lime

25g granulated sugar

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 F / gas 4.

In your food processor, combine the butter and caster sugar to create a pale, light, fluffy mixture. Whilst still whizzing, gradually tip in the egg. When fully incorporated, tip in the flour, baking powder and lime zest. Whizz again until evenly incorporated. Pour in the gin and whizz again to evenly disperse.

Tip the mixture into your loaf tin and pop into the oven to bake for 55 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the sponge is a lovely golden brown.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrupy topping. Gently heat the caster sugar and tonic water in a small pan, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lime juice and gin, stir and set aside to cool.

Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and pop tin on a cooling rack and leave from 10-15 minutes until the cake is warm rather than hot.

Prick over the top of the cake with a skewer.

Mix together the cooled syrup with the remaining granulated sugar – you don’t want this to dissolve – the crunch of this sugar on the top of the cake is part of the lusciousness of it!

Pour the syrup over the top of the cake whilst it is still in its tin. It will look like there’s too much but if you pour slowly, it will all ‘fit’. Walk away and decide where you are going to enjoy your first slice of just-warm G&T cake.

Come back 10-15 minutes later and the lemon drizzle topping will have largely disappeared – it’s gone into the cake (with the help of your skewering) to ensure that it is wonderfully moist throughout.

When it’s cool rather than cold, loosen the sides away from the tin and lift out, using the paper. Dispense with the parchment paper and serve your delicious Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake in lovely fat slices! Raise a forkful and enjoy – cheers!

Inspired by…

My friend, Dawn, from whom both of her recipe suggestions seem to have been alcohol-based…..and then Good Housekeeping magazine (but I did completely change the syrupy element)

How easy…

As ever with these delicious drizzle cakes, delightfully effortless!

 

Fantasy Cake

You know how the first sunshine of summer works – you sit outside in April or May after months and months of cold, grey, wet winter (and spring) days and you feel those first wonderfully warm rays sink into your bones – all is well with the world. Well, making and eating this cake is a similar experience: it’s best enjoyed warm – the sponge is moist and the deliciously gooey, sweet strawberries deliver summer direct to all of your senses – one of my favourite recipes from Lisa Faulkner’s book, ‘Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter’. Just lovely!

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper on the bottom

175g unsalted butter, softened

150g caster sugar

150g self-raising flour

2 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

100g ground almonds

1 teaspoon almond essence

400g strawberries, hulled and halved

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

Preheat oven to 160°c / 325°f, gas 3.

Using a food processor, whizz together all the ingredients except the strawberries and icing sugar.

Stir in the fruit, reserving a handful for decorating.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put the remaining handful of fruit on top of the cake.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 1-1¼ hours. To test if it is cooked, pierce the cake with a skewer – if it is clean when you pull it out, the cake is cooked. If not, pop it back in for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Turn the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool and then dust with icing sugar. It’s most gorgeous served just as its turning from warm to room temperature, ideally outside enjoying early summer sunshine.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Really easy and it comes with a sense of well-being!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Drizzle Cake

 

I heard on the Chris Evans’ radio 2 breakfast show on Tuesday that Great British Bake Off winner 2015, the lovely Nadiya Hussain, had been appointed to create a birthday cake for our wonderful 90-year- old Queen and that she’d decided to make an orange drizzle cake. Well, we all know that hers will be a thing of wonder but I thought that in my own small way, I would celebrate the day with a more basic version of the same. Using my Mary Berry lemon drizzle cake recipe as a basis, I simply swapped out the fresh lemon bits for orange – couldn’t be simpler! Whilst the lemon version is really zesty, zingy and fresh, the orange alternative is mellower and more subtle with a nod towards summer. They’re both lovely, dead easy, take no time and both very moreish. Happy Birthday ma’am!!!!

Serves 8

What you need…

for the cake

900g loaf tin, greased and parchment paper-lined

3 large eggs

175g self-raising flour

175g caster sugar

175g butter, softened

1½ teaspoons baking powder

Zest of 1 large orange, finely grated

for crunchy orange icing

100g granulated sugar

Juice of 1 large orange

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 F / gas 4.

Chuck all the cake ingredients into a food processor and whizz until thoroughly mixed.

Tip into the loaf tin and bake in oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown and shrinking away from the sides of the tin slightly.

Pop tin on a cooling rack and leave from 10/15 minutes until the cake is warm rather than hot.

Prick over the top of the cake with a skewer.

Mix together the sugar and orange juice and pour over the top of the cake whilst it is still in its tin. It will look like there’s loads too much topping – keep the faith and pour the lot in. Walk away.

Come back 10/15 minutes later and the orange drizzle topping will have largely disappeared – it’s gone into the cake (with the help of your skewering) to ensure that it is wonderfully moist.

When it’s cool rather than cold, loosen the sides away from the tin and lift out, using the paper. Dispense with the parchment paper and serve your delicious orange drizzle cake – as you taste it, I swear the gentle warmth of an early summer sun seeps into your bones – it is truly delightful…and for next to no effort.

Inspired by…

Nadiya Hussain for bringing the idea to my attention and Mary Berry for providing me with the original recipe used.

How easy…

Spectacularly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Diva Cake

 

I have been wanting to make this cake for a while but I knew that I would involve committing several hours to the cause. Music on, all equipment assembled and at the ready: I set to. It is an absolute stunner – definitely an OMG wonder of a celebratory cake! A sheer pleasure of many layers, your tastebuds are delighted first by rich chocolate, then by the light, zesty orange butter cream, then by the gentle warmth of cardamom and the intense, distinctive taste of pistachios, returning finally to the rich chocolate. John Whaite may call it ‘Opera Cake’, but to me it’s a glorious diva – requiring a huge amount of attention but worthy of it given the integral gift of enjoyment it exudes! If you have the time and want a real show-stopper of a cake, this is it! Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients or instructions: it’s just like having five mini recipes for one ultimate creation – worth every second!

Makes 18 good-sized slices

What you need…

2 x 20 x 30cm Swiss roll tins, buttered and lined with parchment paper

5 egg whites

25g sugar

4 eggs

100g pistachios, ground (in your food processor)

50g ground almonds

150g icing sugar

45g flour

40g unsalted butter, melted

for the ganache

100ml milk

8 cardamom pods, bruised

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

20g unsalted butter, room temperature

for the syrup

60g caster sugar

60ml water

4 cardamom pods, bruised

Juice from 1 large orange

for the orange buttercream

75ml unsalted butter, room temperature

Zest from 1 large orange

150g icing sugar

1 teaspoon fresh orange juice

to decorate with chocolate mirror glaze

1 gelatine leaf

120g golden caster sugar

60ml water

1 tablespoon golden syrup

75g cocoa powder, sifted

60ml double cream

Gold leaf (optional but opulent!)

What to do…

Sponges

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

Into your processor tip in the eggs, pistachios, almonds, icing sugar and flour. Whizz until well combined.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat together the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks are formed. Tip in one third of the sugar and whisk in thoroughly before repeating with a second third and then the remaining sugar.

Onto the egg whites, gently pour the pistachio mixture and the melted butter. Using a balloon whisk, gently fold together so that all three elements are evenly incorporated.

Pour into your two Swiss roll tins, smooth surfaces and pop in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until light golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool completely in their tins whilst you make the ganache, butter cream, syrup and glaze.

Ganache

For the indulgent ganache, pour the milk into a saucepan with the 8 cardamom pods, set over a high heat until the milk begins to steam and then remove from the heat, allowing the cardamoms to infuse for 10 minutes.

Pop your chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Remove the cardamom pods and then heat the milk until bubbles start to form around the sides. Pour the milk over the chocolate and after 30 seconds, use your balloon whisk to beat like crazy until the chocolate is melted. Add in the butter and whisk until all is incorporated and is lovely and glossy. Set aside.

Syrup

Place the sugar, water and 4 cardamom pods into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Allow to cool a little. Add the orange juice and set aside.

Buttercream

In your food processor, tip in the butter and orange zest. Whizz until evenly mixed. Add the icing sugar and orange juice. Whizz until pale and light. Set aside.

Glaze

Soak the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the sugar, water and golden syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer vigorously for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a balloon whisk, beat in first the cocoa powder and then the cream. Return to a moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the chocolate mixture. Stir until dissolved. Sieve into a jug and set aside.

Assembly Job

Here we go – time to assemble – this bit is really relaxing and I loved seeing it all coming together.

Carefully remove your sponges from the parchment paper and from each one, cut a 20cm square, also giving you a 20cm x 10cm rectangle.

Take a 20 x 20cm sponge and put it on the board or plate that you intend to serve this glorious diva of a cake on. Using a pastry brush, apply the syrup to the sponge, using about one third. Then, spread two-thirds of the ganache evenly over the top. Pop the sponge in the freezer for 5 minutes. Clear up a bit.

Place the two rectangular sponges on the ganache to create the second 20 x 20cm square sponge layer. Apply half the remaining syrup all over the top and then spread over all of the buttercream. Pop in the freezer for 5 minutes. Clear up a bit more.

Take the remaining square sponge and evenly apply the remaining syrup all over. Flip it (so that the syrup is on the underside) and gently place it on top of the buttercream. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and then pop the cake back into the freezer for 20 minutes. Clear up a lot!

The glaze needs to be runny so pop it in the microwave for 30-second bursts until it is glossy and runny again. Enjoy gently pouring it evenly over the chilled cake, making sure the whole surface is covered. Put back in the freezer for 30 minutes until set.

To serve, first a little tidy up of the diva, so it looks its absolute best! Fill a tall jug with boiling water from the kettle and arm yourself with your sharpest knife. Dip the knife in the water, dry and then trim one side of the cake by just 5mm to create a sharp edge with beautifully defined layers. Repeat the dip, dry and trim process for the remaining three sides and then again to divide the cake up into either smaller cakes (I made 3 smaller rectangular cakes, each serving 6 slices) or slice up the whole lot. Decorate with gold leaf if you’re feeling opulent or simply indulge in the loveliness that is this fabulous cake!

It absolutely WAS worth the effort! Enjoy!!!!

Tips…

Freeze the left over egg yolks from the biscuit sponge – you only need one more to make a fabulous and large Tiramisu (recipe to follow).

Rinse and dry food processor bowl, balloon whisks and saucepans as you complete the first stages to reduce the final washing up pile!

Inspired by…

2012 Great British Bake Off winner, John Whaite

How easy…

It’s not a difficult recipe but it does take hours and my kitchen looked like a bombsite during the process. Called into play were the food processor, mini chopper, electric hand whisk, juicer and mixing bowls as well as three balloon whisks, jugs and countless spatulas, knives and spoons. I am a messy cook anyway but wow! this was a whole new level of kitchen mayhem, even for me. Saying that, during the cake assembly, when it is popped into the freezer for a few sessions, the dishes, surfaces and equipment gradually got washed, wiped down and returned to normal so when this glorious cake was finished, it was centre stage in a spotless kitchen with only the whirring of the dishwasher as a gentle reminder of the havoc that had reigned!

Black Velvet Baby Cakes

Never one to miss an opportunity to make cake, today I am presented with St. Patrick’s Day and in celebration made these lovely cakes that are spectacularly easy and fast to whip up as well as being indulgently delicious! They also bring together that wonderful combination of Guinness and Champagne! The dark, rich and quite dense sponge contrasts perfectly with the light, frothy, sweet cream, emulating the famous cocktail perfectly. The serving suggestion is to accompany these cakes with a glass of Champagne, but it’s a tad early for that – they work equally well with a cup of good, strong coffee – indulge and enjoy!

Makes 6

What you need…

6 x dariole moulds, well buttered and bases lined with parchment paper

100g butter, room temperature, cut into chunks

175g light brown soft sugar

1 egg

100g self-raising flour

50g ground almonds

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

5 tablespoons cocoa, plus a little extra for decorating

150ml Guinness

for the cream topping

200ml double cream

25g icing sugar

Splash Champagne

What to do…

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

Chuck the butter, sugar, egg, flour, almonds, bicarbonate, cocoa and Guinness into your food processor and whizz until lump-free. Divide the mixture evenly between the dariole moulds, pop them on a baking tray and stick them in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until risen and a skewer poked in comes out clean.

Cool for 15 minutes and then remove them from their tins (see tip) and cool completely, keeping them the same way up – no need to invert.

Using a handheld electric whisk, whip the cream together with the icing sugar and Champagne until nice and thick and simply dollop on top of your cakes. Serve your fabulous black velvet baby cakes with a glass or two of Champagne – what could be nicer?! Thank you St. Patrick!

Tip…

No matter how thoroughly I butter dariole moulds, I have historically had a bit of a stress getting things out of them until John introduced me to this method. Rather that slipping a smooth knife down the sides of the cake to loosen it from the tin, simply tap the tin sharply and all the way around with the handle of a metal knife – they come out beautifully then – have used this method with panna cottas, ice cream and mousses as well as cake – thank you darling!

The story behind Black Velvet…

Amazing what you can find on Google: “This famous drink was invented in 1861 at Brook’s Club in London. Prince Albert had died, everyone was in mourning. The story goes that the steward at the club, overcome with the emotion of the occasion, ordered that even the champagne should be put into mourning and proceeded to mix it with Guinness. The taste was so delicious the Black Velvet quickly became extremely popular.”

Inspired by…

Good Food Magazine (2011)

How easy…

Whiz, bake, whip, enjoy – that’s it!!!!