Lemon & Elderflower Cake

Two layers of zingy lemon sponge, sandwiched together with lemon curd and elderflower buttercream. Finished with a scatter of edible flowers, and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Tastes just as good as it looks!

61760AD9-1A78-42C7-AEA6-D7766C484E901D393827-F0F2-4E0D-942F-9FFA4F1CD0957BA79E8C-5656-4EB8-985B-92EA25131EA4

The thin coating of buttercream on the sides is called a ‘semi-naked cake’. There’s a minimal amount of buttercream swiped around the sides, to show off the cakes’ natural texture and filling. It looks really effective and is great if you aren’t a perfectionist as it’s not meant to be neat. There’s no need to crumb-coat, chill, frost, repeat, which also helps save time.

79ACB5A2-28C6-4EB7-ACF6-04A65ACCD0B51C4DEF83-FD6C-4718-91AB-536D411B1AF0

Ingredients

For the cake:

200g unsalted butter or Stork tub
200g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
Zest of 2 lemons

For the filling:

2 tbsp homemade or shop-bought lemon curd (here’s my recipe for super easy lemon curd)
250g unsalted butter, soft at room temp
500g icing sugar
2 tbsp elderflower cordial

To decorate:

Edible flower blossoms (I bought mine from Sainsbury’s)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line two 8inch round baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Beat the sugar and butter together until light and creamy. Add one egg at a time, along with a little flour, and mix together.
  3. Add the remaining flour and lemon zest and fold together until fully mixed.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins, and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the cakes have turned a golden colour and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave aside to cool.
  5. Once the cake is cooled, make your elderflower buttercream by first beating the butter with an electric whisk until soft. Sift in half the icing sugar and beat together until smooth. Sift in the remaining icing sugar, add the elderflower cordial and beat again until you have a smooth buttercream.

To decorate

  1. Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable or serving plate.
  2. Using an icing spatular, spread a layer of buttercream evenly on top. Drizzle over 2 tbsp of lemon curd.
  3. Top with the 2nd cake layer and spread the remaining buttercream on top and all around the sides. Using a flat knife or an icing scraper, smooth out the buttercream on the sides of the cake. This should be rough and the sides of the cake should show through.
  4. Finish by decorating with flower blossoms. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Christmas Bakewell Tart

For my second Christmas bake I give you a British classic with a festive twist!

SONY DSC

Buttery shortcrust pastry, beneath layers of cherry jam, frangipane and white icing. I decorated the Bakewell with a gorgeous Christmas wreath, made form sugar paste holly leaves, glacé cherry ‘berries’ and a dusting of edible glitter for a bit of Christmas sparkle.

I do have a confession, the pastry is not homemade I’m afraid! It’s been a busy few weeks with Christmas shopping and starting my new job (exiting times!) and hey, what’s wrong with taking a shortcut every now and then 🙂 If you do fancy making your own, then check out my fool-proof recipe here, it’s super easy to follow and won’t take you hours to make 🙂

Ingredients (makes an 8inch tart)

1 sheet Jus-rol ready rolled shortcrust pastry (if you fancy making your own check out my super easy recipe here)
Cherry jam

For the frangipane:
150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp plain flour
150g ground almonds

For the icing layer:
200g icing sugar
1-2 tbsps water

Decoration
Green sugar paste
Holly shaped cutter
glacé cherries
Edible glitter

Let’s get baking…

Lightly grease an 8inch fluted tart tin with a bit of butter.

Unroll your pastry sheet and lay it across the tart tin. Trim off any extra bits and use your fingers to press the dough into the corners and sides of the tin. Be mindful that the tart will shrink whilst in the oven, so you’ll want to leave a bit of height on the edge.

Put back in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes (this will help stop it from shrinking too much). Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Remove your tart from the fridge and prick the base all over with a fork. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake the tart blind for 10 minutes. Take your tart out of the oven and carefully lift out the baking paper and beans. Bake for a further 10 minutes until firm and golden. Remove and leave to cool. Using a knife trim the edge of the pastry to neaten I up.

Whilst the tart is cooling, make your frangipane by first creaming together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack in the egg, add the almond extract and add the tablespoon of flour (this will stop the mixture from curdling), mix until fully incorporated. Finally fold in the ground almonds.

Spread a layer of jam on the tart base. Top with the frangipane mixture, spreading it out into an even layer. Return to the oven for 25-30 minutes until the top has set and has turned golden brown. Remove and leave to cool.

Once the tart has completely cooled, mix the icing sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of water until you have a thick but pourable consistency. Pour the icing onto the tart and spread out into an even layer. Leave to set completely.

Time to decorate… 

Either top with a glacé cherry or if you want to decorate your tart with a Christmas wreath like mine then stay with me and follow the next steps:

This step can be done in advance – Roll out the sugar paste until it is roughly a pound coin in thickness. Cut out roughly 20-30 holly shapes. Leave to dry out and harden.

Using icing sugar mixed with a little water, stick the holly shapes on top of the tart in a circle. Add glacé cherries to the wreath for the ‘berries’. Finally dust the tart with edible glitter to give it a Christmas sparkle!

Snowman Cupcakes

Well aren’t these cute!

I’ve seen a few snowman recipe ideas around and thought this year I’d give one a go. However there’s a story to tell here…keep reading if you fancy a giggle!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

My first attempt was a huge….success disaster! Photo evidence below, try not to laugh 🙂

This got me thinking, how do I make sure my snowmen don’t look like they’ve spent a week on the beach in 30 degree heat!?

SONY DSC

Commence phase two…

I decided to add some height using white chocolate buttercream. No melted snowmen here! Then using Mikado biscuit sticks I added some ‘twig’ arms. For the eyes and mouth, I used melted chocolate and for the noses, orange sugar paste – nope they are not real carrots carved to be miniature in size like my gran thought 🙂

For the cupcake base, I used my tried and tested vanilla sponge recipe and added white chocolate chips and cinnamon spice for extra festive flavour.

I think it’s safe to say the second attempt turned out a bit better! I have to admit it’s not the quickest/easiest one I’ve posted, but they are great fun to make and the end result is so worth it. So put on your favourite Christmas music and your tackiest festive jumper, or one you don’t mind getting covered in icing sugar, and give it a go!

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:

150g unsalted butter
150g golden caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsps ground cinnamon
100g white chocolate chips
1 tbsp milk (optional)

For the snowmen:

Buttercream body: 125g unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar, 150g white chocolate, 1 tbsp milk
Heads: 12 white large marshmallows
Eyes and mouths: A few squares of milk/dark chocolate
Noses: Orange sugar paste, you will only need a small amount
Arms: 1 pack Mikado biscuit sticks
Buttons: different coloured icing pens
Cocktail sticks

 

Lets get baking…

Start with the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and cinnamon until the mixture is smooth. Now fold in the white chocolate chips. If the mixture is too thick add a tablespoon of milk to loosen it slightly.

Evenly fill the cupcake cases about 3/4 full with the mixture and bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes until golden brown on top and springy to the touch.

Whilst your cakes are cooling you can begin the decoration…

Eyes and Mouth
Melt the squares of milk/dark chocolate in the microwave in 20 second blasts. Using the tip of a cocktail stick, dot the eyes and mouth onto the marshmallows. Set aside and leave to dry.

Noses
For the noses, take a small peice of sugar paste and roll into a cone shape. Cut the end of the nose with a knife to make a sharp flat surface (this will be the end that will attach to the head). Set aside and leave to dry out and harden.

Once for the sugar paste has dried, use an icing sugar and water paste to stick the nose on to the marshmallow head. You will need to hold it in place until it feels firm.

Body
In a microwaveable bowl melt the white chocolate in 30 second blasts until smooth. Beat the butter for at least 5 minutes until really pale in colour (if you have an electric whisk use it, it will save your arms from aching!). Now sift in half the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Repeat with the remaining icing sugar. Pour the white chocolate in, add the milk, fold until the buttercream is smooth, creamy and light.

To assemble a snowman…

Start with the body
Using a piping bag with a large open circular nozzle, pipe the buttercream in a swirly motion starting from the middle and circulating outwards and upwards. If you don’t have a piping bag you can achieve something similar with a spoon, using the back to create definition.

Add the head
Place a marshmallow on top of the buttercream swirl.

And the arms
Snap a Mikado stick in half and push into each side of the buttercream.

And finally the buttons
Using the icing pens dot buttons on the body of the snowman.

Repeat this for all 12 cupcakes. If you think they’re simply too cute to eat, they will last in the fridge for up to five days or on the counter for two.

Foolproof caramel

Ever started making caramel to find that it always ends up crystallising? I know that feeling far too well and completely understand how frustrating it can be.

So when I decided to make a Caramel Apple Cake to celebrate Bonfire Night, I sat down, did some research and decided to give it one last go. The result? Beautifully smooth, golden caramel – no lumps here!

A09E89AC-57D2-4638-8362-EA66B71F4256

Time to share the secret, but before we begin, here are my top-tips:

1. Use a medium-large saucepan so the sugar becomes thinly spread along the bottom. This is help the sugar to melt evenly and stop it from burning.

2. Make sure your saucepan and utensils are completely dry and free from any debris.

3. Add a few spoons of water to the sugar before putting it on the heat. The water will help prevent crystallisation.

4. Resist the urge to stir the sugar as it melts. Simply swirl the saucepan to stop it from burning.

5. The cream and butter must be at room temperature before you add that them to the melted sugar, I would recommend getting them out the fridge at least 30 minutes before you start.

Ingredients (makes enough caramel to cover an 8inch cake, or 12 cupcakes).

200g granulated sugar
4 tbsps. water
80g butter, at room temperate
120g heavy cream, at room temperature

Method

Take the cream and butter out of the fridge and leave to get to room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Add the sugar and water to a medium-large sized saucepan and stir until combined. Set the saucepan over a medium heat.

Leave the sugar to melt, do not stir the sugar. Simply swirl the saucepan until the sugar has melted and turns a light amber colour, similar to the picture below. Be patient, this can take a while!

8F2CC683-AD72-4371-8D4A-A499E4636C3B

Carefully add the butter and immediately whisk until all the butter has melted.

Now remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, whisking constantly until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have smooth caramel.

Pour into a bowl and leave to cool and thicken for about 5 minutes.

 

Caramel Apple Cake

Before I start to explain how insanely tasty this cake is, I have a confession… this is not my own recipe.

In fact, it’s my future Mother-in-laws, and after tasting this cake a few weeks ago I knew I just had to share it with you (Ruth I hope I’ve done it justice!).

Unlike the usual ‘cream your butter and sugar together’ method, this recipe requires you to rub the butter into the flour, coating the flour proteins in a layer of fat. The ‘rubbing-in’ method makes it harder for water to get through, resulting in less gluten and a finer, more tender crumb. Trust me once you take your first bite you will know what I’m talking about.

I decided to drizzle the cake with homemade caramel, because well you know it’s November…bonfire night, toffee apples and all that, and also I wanted to practise my caramel making skills, or lack of! For some reason it always seems to crystallize for me, but not this time I think i’ve finally cracked it 🙂 Read on to see my top tips for beautifully smooth golden caramel.

B253A390-D516-4B7E-9A2B-8ACCD21FE2AAA09E89AC-57D2-4638-8362-EA66B71F4256

Ingredients (makes an 8inch round cake)

300g self-raising flour
2 tsps. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

150g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
150g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs, at room temp
8 tbsps. milk
100g sultanas
250-300g Granny Smith Apples, peeled cored and chopped into small chunks

For the caramel drizzle

100g granulated sugar
2 tbsps. water
40g butter, at room temperate and cut into pieces
60g heavy cream, at room temperature

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line an 20cm round cake tin with grease proof paper. I use cake liners for ease, which can be purchased from most large supermarkets.

Mix the flour, baking powder and the cinnamon together in a large bowl.

Add the chilled butter and rub it into the flour until it begins to look like fine breadcrumbs.

Now stir in the light brown sugar.

Add the egg and milk, and mix together until you reach a smooth, thick cake batter.

Fold in the apple and sultanas until coated in mixture.

Pour the mixture into your tin and bake in the center of the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the cake has browned on top and is springy to the touch. A skewer inserted into a centre should come out clean.

Leave on the side to cool whilst you make your caramel drizzle.

For the caramel drizzle*

Add the sugar and water to a medium-large sized saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until combined.

Leave the sugar to melt, do not stir the sugar. Simply swirl the saucepan until the sugar has melted and turns a light amber colour, similar to the picture below. Be patient, this can take a while!

8F2CC683-AD72-4371-8D4A-A499E4636C3B

Carefully add the butter and whisk until all the butter has melted.

Now remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, whisking constantly until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have smooth caramel.

Pour into a bowl and leave to cool and thicken for about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the cake.

*here are my top-tips for smooth, golden caramel – no lumps here! 

1. Use a medium-large saucepan so the sugar becomes thinly spread along the bottom. This is help the sugar to melt evenly and stop it from burning.

2. Make sure your saucepan and ultensils are completely dry and free from any debris.

3. Add a few spoons of water to the sugar before putting it on the heat. The water will help prevent crystallisation.

4. Resist the urge to stir the sugar as it melts. Simply swirl the saucepan to stop it from burning.

5. The cream and butter must be at room temperature before you add that them to the melted sugar, I would recommend getting them out the fridge at least 30 minutes before you start.

 

Banana & Nutella Swirl Loaf Cake

When life gives you brown bananas, make banana bread! But this time add a swirl of Nutella for the ultimate taste sensation.

image1

This recipe can be prepped, baked and eaten in less than an hour. It’s a one bowl recipe (which I am always a fan of – I mean I love a red velvet cake but 3 bowls means a lot of washing up!), and most of the ingredients you are likely to already have.

The banana cake is sweet and moist, and with the added swirl of gooey Nutella, this cake really is hard to resist. In fact, I’ve just bought another bunch of bananas which i’m eagerly waiting for them to turn brown!

Ingredients (makes a 2lb loaf cake)

150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
170g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 ripe medium-sized bananas
1 tbsp milk
4 tbsps Nutella

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 2lb loaf tin with grease proof paper. I use cake liners for ease, which can be purchased from most large supermarkets.

Beat together you butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Crack in the eggs, add half of the flour and mix. The flour will stop of the mixture from curdling.

Fold in the remaining flour and baking powder until you have a smooth mixture.

Mash the bananas until no lumps remain. Fold the mashed banana and milk into the mixture until smooth.

In a separate bowl melt the Nutella in the microwave for 30-40 seconds.

Pour half the cake mixture into the loaf in. Now pour half of the melted Nutella down the middle of the cake tin. Pour the remaining cake mixture on top.

Dollop spoonfuls of the remaining Nutella on top. Use a skewer or knife tip to swirl the Nutella into the cake mixture.

Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the cake has browned on top and is springy to the touch. A skewer inserted into a centre should come out clean of cake mixture.