Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘cake’

Fairtrade chocolate tiffin

October 4, 2012



The best thing about the little chill in the air? Chocolate takes a lot longer to melt so I get to make and scoff one of my all-time favourites without getting my fingers quite so sticky.

The chocolate tiffin. This week I had the pleasure of opening a beautiful tote bag of Fairtrade baking goodies send out as part of their brilliant Big Fair Bake Campaign. A bounty of nuts, dried fruits and dark chocolates made me immediately think of tiffin.

This is such a simple no-bake recipe that really does taste like it has taken time. You can make it as budget or as expensive as you like, with the fruits and nuts you use dictating the overall taste. In February I blogged the basic recipe but here I packed in brazils, almonds and hazelnuts for the nuts, sultanas and apricots for the fruit and broke-up homemade shortbread for the biscuit. Plus a handful of Maltesers – the chocolate melts but the honeycomb remains whole.

The result is a perfectly decadent  blend of rich chewy crunchiness that warms up your insides, more so when you know you are supporting global trade that is proper, right and fair.



Oat & raisin cookies

September 24, 2012




What a miserable, windy rainy day. Kind of day you want to hibernate, watch old films, drink many cups of tea and dunk biscuits until the outlook is not so bleak.

I accidentally made these chewy cookies when I went to boil the kettle. Needs must. They were to be the Oat, ginger & date recipe I wrote about in June and by the looks of it, on a very similar day. Just no ginger and date this time, I went with 100g raisins and 50g chopped hazelnuts.

The end result: a stack of equally comforting golden biscuits to eat and eat until it is less grey.

Blackberry buckle

September 19, 2012



Quick, it’s berry season, get in as many as you can! This season really reminds me of being a littly at the bottom of nanny seaside’s garden, packing as many plump berries as I could fit into my already full, hamster-like, stained pink cheeks. There was then the added pleasure of rubbing the fruit over my lips to make lipstick. Heaven. I’d like to have done that over in the blackberry bushes in Hackney Marshes, there were literally 1000’s of them, ripe for the picking.

I am playing with berries in every way I can this week; freezing*,  jamming, sorbet-ing, purée-ing, juicing, staining (my face) : anything to keep them in my life for a little while longer. Best though, when the light is lowering and that brings a chill is a good hearty, berry crumble or a slab of berry juicy pudding. Or both.

One of my favourite people in the world makes a to-die-for Blueberry buckle; this is like the US version of the cobbler but rather than making a floury batter topping over the fruit, the mix is made then the fruit stirred in, with a buttery oat layer scattered to finish. The result is a lovely combination of doughy, juicy sponge with a crunchier, crumble crust.

He uses a recipe by Martha Stewart with a strudel topping plus extra zest, I have tweaked this slightly by adding an extra egg to the main mix, nuts and oats to give more crunch. You can obviously try any fruit you wish but personally, the tart little blackberry is a winner for me.



*Freezing and then making the blackberry ice cream cake by Nigel Slater in September’s  Observer Food Monthly is a great way to save berries and use them later, with minimal effort.



Orange & lemon cake

August 24, 2012




Oranges and lemons. Fruits I normally like squeezed in my glass, rather than additions to a bake, especially when the recipe calls for the whole fruit, peel, pith and all. That said, the simplicity of the Claudia Roden orange cake recipe (first published in 1963), cited in the excellent The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, intrigued me. Just five ingredients in Claudia’s cake with no fat nor gluten in sight, the kind of recipe you’d look and think something must have been left out.

The fruit is boiled for two hours prior so the peel looses its bitterness and the juices become sweeter, the whole fruit is then pulped and added to the mix, then baked for an hour. The result is – I don’t say this very often – fantastic. A really light, fresh slice of cake that really does melt in your mouth.

I added a lemon to the stewing oranges to up the more zesty flavours. I want to give some other nuts a try like hazelnuts and different fruits  –  like cherries or even plums might be worth a go.

As it is, this is definitely, my new favourite.



Lemon poppyseed cake

July 30, 2012


Now, if you were an Olympic athlete who had been hard at it all day, what cake would you want to reward yourself with?

I think I would go for this.

Very M-word, light yet dense, with a slightly crunchy texture and a citrus summer flavour, it has a little bit of everything.

This one is the best recipe I have come across from Dan Lepard as it feels fresher and more zesty than the traditional, dressed up, lemon drizzle sponges. Like a carrot cake, nearly half the fat is sunflower oil with the lemon-sugar syrup soaked through the cake once it is baked rather than having a heavier buttery frosting sitting on top.

Even nicer with a spoonful of marscapone and a raspberry or two on the side. Definitely a champion of cakes, best with a cuppa whilst sitting back to enjoy the gymnastics.



Victoria sponge

June 1, 2012


jubliee victoria sponge

The Victoria Sponge; subtle, elegant and dignified. You can see why she favoured it for that afternoon pick me up slice. For me, when baked to perfection with the right filling, it really is the cake of all cakes.

Simple and yet so easy to get wrong – my first was solid, heavier than the crown jewels – it is worth taking time, following some sound instruction.

An original from Mrs.Beeton’s 1891 Book of Household Management sees her weighing the eggs to determine the equal weights of butter, sugar and flour with the eggs beaten, added last. This is still the way many choose to make it. Others cream softened butter with the caster sugar until light and fluffy before adding the eggs, one by one, then folding in the flour.

Mary Berry’s more modern offering opts for a soft margerine to help keep the sponge light, blending all together all at once, rather than creaming and beating separately. Personally, I prefer the sponge flavour with the buttery traditional method.

This recipe was given to me a few years ago by my friend and Jeremy Lee’s excellent head chef Lee Urch at Quo Vadis. It never fails to impress. Baked high then lowered for longer than most, the texture is incredible.

Fill it with jam, whipped cream and handfuls of berries and it really is fit for a queen.

infographic victoria sponge cake

Pistachio Cake – Gluten Free

May 26, 2012


Pistachio Cake

This is magic this is. The perfect slice for this weather. Light and fresh, with or without strawberries and cream. It is easy, takes 20 minutes to prepare so does not interfere with precious time in the sun. In fact, it only enhances it. Try taking a slab along to that picnic to enjoy with that glass of chilled prosecco.

Infographic recipe cake pistachio







May 4, 2012


Pretty aren’t they? Aren’t they though? I keep looking at them. However, you won’t catch me eating one, they just don’t do it for me. Too sweet and overdressed.

I succumbed to making cupcakes for the first time this week, for a very good occasion. The fabulous Jones & Payne Hairdressing celebrated their 2nd birthday. They wanted little treats to give to each of their clients so no average cupcakes would cut it – sorry, couldn’t resist.

Google searching ‘cupcakes’ told me I am one of few with a lack of interest in them. There are literally thousands of recipes for different sizes, shapes, textures, colours, flavours, fillings, toppings, frosting, dustings and edible sprinkles; yes, that edible glitter.

How do you choose between lemon-lavender and lemon meringue, red velvet and deep dark chocolate, Kitkat or Oreo? Seriously, I even found a beef cupcake recipe.

I opted in the end for Dan Leopard’s vanilla cupcakes as they seemed a little more subtle but still elegant. I’m glad I did. The sponge is springy and not overly sweet. He adds some cornflour and glucose to the buttercream to help it hold it’s shape yet keep the frosting rich and dense, light in texture and taste.

I used vanilla pods instead of essence but otherwise stuck to his recipe. I plastered the topping on with a knife rather than piped so the layer wasn’t more than teeth deep.

To finish, try a single fruit or flower, a little dusting of cocoa, ground nut or coffee work, all keeping them looking refined.

The end result: Happy hair and mouths down at the salon and may be persuaded to make them again, I may even eat the odd one….or two.

That coconut & raspberry slice

March 1, 2012



This is for those of you who would have said “I’m not a big fan of coconut slice.”

I know, I used to be one of those people. Seriously, make it, just once.

Life changing.


Chocolate Tiffin

February 9, 2012


Tiffin or fridge cake or no-bake cake, in Scotland sometimes called concrete cake. So many names and variations but the one below is a good base, adapted from a Mary Berry recipe. It’s quick and very versatile. In 15mins the prep is done and you only have to wait for them to set. They are ideal for a mid-afternoon snack; great with coffee as so rich and fruity.

I like mine with brazils, hazelnuts and walnuts, alongside figs and dates. Pistachios work as does a bit of mixed peel. You can swap the fruit for maltesers, crunchies, marshmallows or any confectionery you fancy. I have used hobnobs for the biscuits too, though I found them a little too sweet. You can even jazz them up for after-dinner delights by soaking the fruit in some hard liquor first.

Incidentally, ‘Tiffin’ in India refers to light meals and snacks in general. It comes from the old English word ‘tiffing’ meaning to ‘take a little’. The only difficulty I have with these is it is really difficult not to ‘take a lot’.