Category Archives: Cake

Sticky Gingerbread Loaf Cake

*DISCLAIMER: if you don’t like treacle or molasses, don’t bother reading this any further – this loaf tastes very treacley and I don’t want you to go to the effort of baking a loaf cake only to realise you hate it: it’s not the recipe, it’s the treacle!*
    
If you do like treacle, go for your life. Personally, I can’t stand treacle, but it’s become a bit of an annual tradition for me to bake one of these guys for Mr Brooker, whose sweet tooth is more subtle than my own. He likes to keep it wrapped in foil for a couple of weeks to get really sticky, but you can serve it as soon as it’s ready, either plain or buttered. I’m going to experiment a bit before next Christmas to see if I can work out a treacle-less loaf which isn’t just a syrup cake. Oh, and there’s no electric mixer necessary for this recipe. 

 You will need: 
150g butter – can be cold!
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle or molasses
125g dark muscovado sugar 
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger 
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground cloves 
250ml full-fat (whole) milk
2 eggs 
300g self-raising flour
A loaf tin
Geese proof paper to line the tin
A little more butter to grease the paper 
    
 1. To prepare, remove the top shelf from the oven and lower the middle shelf so there’s plebty of room for the loaf. Pre-heat the oven to 160c fan or 170c non-fan. Line a loaf tin with grease proof paper and lightly grease with butter. Weigh out the butter and sugar into a medium saucepan. 

  
  2. Add the syrup. Lyle’s now make syrup in a squeezey bottle which is so much handier for baking. Just squeeze in, pop the cap back on and stick it back in the cupboard; none of that messing around with a mental tin which needs the lid levering off. 

  
3. Add the treacle, fresh ginger and ground spices. Unfortunately you will need to faff about with a treacle tin now! 
   

 4. Put the saucepan over a low heat and mix the ingredients together as they melt. 
 

  
5. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a small bowl, just to break up the yolks for even mixing into the cake batter, and measure the milk into a jug. Then seive and weigh the flour into a large bowl, big enough to take the total volume of all the ingredients.   

  
6. Stir the melted ingredients together until well-combined then remove from the heat for a few minutes. 
    

 7. Pour in the milk and mix together. Then add the beaten eggs. Stir very quickly after you have added the eggs to help the temperature even out, though the milk should have given the cooling process a good start. 
    

 8. Tip the wet ingredients into the flour and mix everything together well. The lumps are easier to get rid of with an electric mixer but if you don’t have one just spend a few extra minutes gently stirring, pushing the lumps against the side of the bowl to help them to disperse. And using a seive to measure the flour will help too. 
  
9. Pour into the loaf tin and shove it in the oven. It should take around an hour to bake but it’s best to keep an eye on it. Don’t open the door until it has risen and looks to be firm. It’s ready when you push a skewer into it which is clean when removed. If it’s not quite ready,give it another 10 minutes then try again. 
    

 Serve in slices, plain or buttered, or give as a host gift when visiting someone, wrapped in paper or foil. Kept airtight, it should last for a couple of weeks. 

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (Bonfire Night Cupcakes)

It was Bonfire Night/Fireworks Night/Guy Fawkes night last Thursday night here in the UK. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a pretty gruesome celebration of foiling a dastardly plot Guy Fawkes had to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London in 1605. The idea is that we’re supposed to burn his effigy on the bonfire, whilst the fireworks display represents what things would have looked like had his gunpowder plot succeeded.   
 To celebrate, I made these bonfire cupcakes. Dark chocolate orange, nice and seasonal, with a white chocolate buttercream fire, topped by chocolate orange Matchmaker logs. Sadly, because I’m combining a full time job with family commitments, wedding planning, house work and getting in shape for my wedding dress, I didn’t get round to making these until the night itself. And it’s taken me 2 days to properly record the recipe, so sorry about that – I’ll be plenty organised for Christmas! 

Anyway the bonus in this delay is that I’ve had some feedback on these guys. For those of you who don’t know, my Mum is pretty much my fiercest critic. Which really sucks when I think I’ve stumbled across something great. But sometimes, every once in awhile, something I bake will prise out a compliment. This here recipe drew out about four positive comments in a row. And a request for an encore. So I would pretty much say the remedial themed decoration, despite being the motivation, is relatively irrelevant now.

You will need:

175g softened salted butter

165g golden caster sugar 

3 eggs 

1 tbsp natural yoghurt (optional)

40g cocoa powder 

4 tbsp fresh brewed espresso or boiling water

Pinch salt 

Zest of one large orange 

115g self-raising flour   

1 tsp baking powder

For the icing:

100g softened butter

90g icing sugar 

150ml double cream 

150g white chocolate 

Zest of one orange 

1 tsp golden syrup

Yellow and red food colouring – I like the Dr Oetker gels

Box of orange matchmakers 

 

1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan. Cream up the butter in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer. Add the sugar and cream the two together, until soft and fluffy. 

  
2. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Once all the eggs have been added, whip it all up for 5 minutes or so, until light and airy. 

  
3. In a separate bowl, weigh out the cocoa powder. Add in the 4 tablespoons of espresso or hot water and mix into a paste. You can add a little extra if you feel it’s a little dry. Add this to the larger bowl, add the pinch of salt and the yoghurt and fold or mix into batter until well combined. 

  
4. Grate in the zest of the first large orange and mix that in before folding in the flour and baking powder. 

  
5. Set 12 muffin cases into a muffin tin. I used purple foil ones but you can use whatever you’d like, bearing in mind the overall look with the bonfires on top. Divide the mixture evenly between the cases and pop onto the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the cakes have risen and are springy on top when gently pressed. 

  

6. Pour the cream into a small saucepan over a medium heat and allow to gently warm through. Break in the chocolate and grate in the orange zest, then stir occasionally until it has all melted together, then remove from the heat, and allow to cool, stirring every now and then. This is your ganache. 

 
7. Meanwhile, whisk together the butter and icing sugar until nice and whipped and creamy. When the ganache has cooled to room temperature, gradually add it to the butter mixture and stir together. Remember that butter that gets too hot will melt. That will split your buttercream. So be careful! Once all the ganache has been added, add in the golden syrup and stir together.

  

8. Split the icing into three portions, with one portion slightly larger than the others. Add yello food colouring to the largest portion, red to another, and a mixture of the two to the last portion. These will make up your flames. If you are more patient than I am and if you are artistic, you’ll probably manage much more impressive flames. You could even gently swirl the three together and pipe it on. But it was about 11pm on a worknight so I went with the spoon blob technique. 

  
 
 Spoon on some yellow, then some orange on top, fork together, then repeat with the red, using your fork to swirl and spike the icing into a flame effect. 

  
 
Once you’re happy, you’ll need your Matchmakers.    

I’m not sure if they sell these in the States, so if not, they’re basically dark chocolate sticks peppered with crunchy orange sugar crystals. If you can’t get these, it would work perfectly well with Mikado, Flakes or Twiglets. Or use your imagination! Anything edible you think would look a bit like firewood which would also go with chocolate cake.

  
9. Break up the Matchmakers into thirds and place them on the cakes to make a little cartoony campfire shape. I wasn’t sure how far they’d go so I added the minimum to each then tried to evenly distribute what was left. 

  
And there you have them! I might repeat this recipe again but with different decoration and possibly a different topping. Hope you like them – let me know if you have any ideas! 

Ugly Halloween Coconut and Jam Spider Cupcakes 

If you know me you’ll know that I like to make themed cupcakes any tine there’s some sort of seasonal or other event (baby showers, Christmas, etc etc). I’m a sucker for what Anericans would call a holiday. I’m planning to make some bonfire night cupcakes next week, but with being away last week and being back to work this week I’ve been playing catch-up with myself and havent really been very organised enough. 

Nevertheless, a notion came over me to whip something together. I started a bit late in the evening though and lost patience so please excuse the messy decoration…I figured it was worth sharing anyway because it’s a good recipe and you are probably more artistic than I am! 

  
The beauty of this recipe is that I got all the way through it without substituting anything without having shopped specifically for the recipe. It’s really important to me that baking should be about not only what you like, but what you have to hand, and in my case, I had half a jar of jam in my fridge and loads of dessicated coconut in my cupboard, both left over from other recipes. Of course, as long as you have eggs, flour, butter and sugar, you can make a decent cupcake, but a holiday cake should be the perfect combination of flavour and theme. And let’s face it, you can’t go much more Halloween than a cake which oozes dark red jam…  

  
You will need:

175g salted butter, softened

175g caster sugar (I ended up using about 125g of caster and 50g of golden caster to use up odds and sods instead of opening a new bag)

3 eggs 

3/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or half tsp extract 

175g self-raising flour 

80g dessicated coconut 

Half jar of your favourite jam, I used cherries and berries conserve by Bonne Maman

150g more of softened butter

300g icing sugar, zest of 1 orange and a few squeezes of the juice (or a couple of teaspoons of milk or cream – I don’t keep much in the way of dairy 

  
1. This is the hardest stage when you haven’t planned ahead, because I would recommend taking the butter out of the fridge before you go to work in the morning if you’re baking in colder temperatures. At short notice you can chop the butter up and give it a quick blast in the microwave or set it in a bowl and then in hot water. This isn’t really a great solution though, as it tends to melt the outside piece while leaving the rest hard. I went for the hot water trick for not very long at all then just used my electric hand mixer to beat it into sumbission. Get it really creamy then add in the sugar and vanilla and cream together until light and fluffy. 

  
2. Add in the eggs one at a time, combining each one. Once they’re all add, which it up for a good few minutes to get loads of air into the batter. 

  
3. Add the flour and coconut and combine until just mixed. Don’t overwork it!

  
4. Set out 12 muffin cases in a 12 hole muffin tray and divide the mixture between the 12 cases. They should be about 2/3 full. Make a well in the centre of each portion of batter and spoon in a teaspoon of jam into each.   

5. Carefully cover over until the jam is concealed – I used the end of a teaspoon. 

  
6. Bake at 160C fan for around 20 minutes, or until golden and slightly springy to the touch. 

  
7. Meanwhile, make the buttercream by creaming together the rest of the butter and the icing sugar, adding a splash of orange juice or milk. Whisk until light and fluffy. Attach a star shaped nozzle to a piping bag (I like to use disposable piping bags to make cleaning up easier), fold half of it back and carefully spoon more jam in a stripe from the nozzle upwards to create the bloody swirl effect in the icing. You’ll need to hold it flattish so the jam doesn’t go everywhere – remember the nozzle has a hole! Spoon in the buttercream and pipe onto the cakes in swirls. You might get extra ooze in som places but I think that makes it look more authentic. You can always spoon on some jam if you don’t end up with much on a particular cake.

  
8. Decorate with something ghoulish. Halloween jelly sweets would work, but I made some fondant spiders with some black ready roll fondant I had in the cupboard. 

  
Just roll two balls, press together, and add some little rolled legs. 

  
Get creative! They’re pretty terrible actually but they sort of look like what they’re supposed to be. 

Add to the tops of your cakes and there you have it. Not a bad spur of the moment recipe if I do say so myself!

The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake

It’s my Mum’s birthday today and it’s become a bit of a tradition that I make everyone a cake for their birthday. Usually, I plump for the traditional birthday cake with a lemony sponge and a jam and buttercream filling. However, being in the midst of exam fever, I didn’t really have 2 evenings to dedicate to crafting sugar decorations, so I figured she’d be happy with a chocolate cake. It’s not very birthday cakeish, but I think they all forgot to care about that when they tasted it. It is certainly not for the faint hearted. Imagine a brownie, layered on top of another brownie and covered with ganache. And you’re just about there.

  
You will need:

For the cake:

200g dark chocolate, 60%+ cocoa solids

200g salted butter

125ml brewed coffee

3 eggs

75ml buttermilk

200g light muscovado sugar 

200g golden caster sugar

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda 

25g cocoa powder 

85g plain flour

85g self-raising flour

For the filling:

25g soft butter

50g icing sugar

75ml double cream

75g white chocolate

1 orange (zest of whole orange and juice of 1/4)

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste 

6 tbsp jam, I used cherry

For the ganache:

200g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids

300ml double cream

2 tbsp golden syrup 

Pinch salt   

1. Preheat the oven to 140C fan and prepare 2 sandwich tins by buttering then and lining with circles of grease proof paper. Work out which of your glass bowls fits best with which of your saucepans so that it can be suspended over a small amount of water in the saucepan to create a bain marie. Boil a little water and pour it into the saucepan on a hob which is set to a low heat. You want the water to summer but you don’t want it to bubble to the point that it touches the bottom of the bowl, as that would burn the chocolate. Break the chocolate up and add it to the bowl, then add the weighed butter. Leave it on the heat, stirring occasionally until it starts to melt. 

  
2. Brew up some coffee. I measured out 125ml of freshly brewed espresso but you could mix 1tbsp of instant coffee granules with 125ml cold water. Add this carefully, little by little, to the melting mixture. If you add it too quickly it could cause the chocolate to seize. Once everything has melted and been mixed well, remove from the heat and allow to cool. 

  
  
3. In a separate bowl, whisk up the eggs. Add the buttermilk and whisk again, then add the two sugars, mixing well, incorporating as much air as you can. 

 
4. Add in the cooling chocolate and combine well. 

  
5. Add the bicarb, cocoa powder and 2 types of flour and fold together until just combined. Divide between the sandwich tins and put in the middle of the oven. 

  
This cake takes much longer to bake than your average cake. It’s a lower, longer bake, but,unlike a brownie, you want it to be evenly cooked all the way through. I tend to bake by eye so I didn’t time this, but keep having a look at the sponges through the oven door. I think this took about 40 mins – the edges will rise and set, while the middle remains droopy but bubbly, eventually, the middle will start to rise, cracking as it does so, but it will still need set all the way through. Once it looks like it had fully risen and possibly set you can tentatively open the oven door and give it a gentle prod or test with a skewer. When the skewer is clean it can come out. 

  
As the cake cools, the middle will sink back again. It’s nothing to worry about as long as it sinks to flat, and doesn’t collapse!

  
6. Make the white chocolate ganache filling by combining the softened butter and icing sugar. Warm the cream in a saucepan on the hob, but don’t let it boil. Break the white chocolate into the cream (off the heat) and grate in the orange zest. Stru until it had melted together and allow to cool to room temperature. 

  
7. Once cook enough, add the white chokers mixture to the butter and sugar and combine well. 

8. Remove the cakes from their tins and allow to cool.

  
 9. Make the chocolate ganache by heating up the cream, as before, and breaking the dark chocolate into it. Add a pinch of salt and stir together until melted. Set aside to cool, stirring every now and then, until you have a glossy, smooth paste. 

19. Sandwich together the soknges, spreading the bottom layer with jam then adding the white chocolate filling. 

  
20. Spread the ganache all over the cake, starting from the top and working down. If everything’s cool enough it shouldn’t spill over the board…in theory! Decorate however you like, with chocolate shavings or curls. I tempered done white chocolate to make some squiggly designs to add to the top abs sides, then added some copper honeycomb sprinkles around the circumference. 

  
This guy will keep for at least a week, if kept in an airtight container.

  

 

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

 I’ve loved banana bread for a long time. And not because it makes me feel pleased with myself for eating a fruity cake. It’s a great one to have in the cake tin, as it’s simple, delicious and keeps moister for longer than your average Victoria sponge. Ironically, you have to bake it for longer!

The chocolate added to this isn’t necessary, but it adds a bit of another dimension, making it altogether much more luxurious. 
 

You will need:

125g butter, at room temperature 

150g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

2 large, ripe bananas

1 egg

190g self-raising flour

60ml milk

75g chocolate chunks or chips 
  
  1. Grease and line a loaf tin and preheat the oven to 160C fan. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Crack in the eggs and whip them into the mixture until airy and moussey.

 
  2. Break the bananas in, mushing a little with your thumb. 

 3. Add the vanilla. Mix in well  

4.  Add the flour and fold in gently. Being careful not to overwork the mixture. Overworking will make the cake dry and heavy. Mix in the milk. 

5. Add the chocolate and mix gently.  
 
  6. Pour evenly into the loaf tin and put it into the middle shelf of the oven. 
  7. Bake for an hour, then check if the loaf is cooked by inserting a skewer or narrow knife into the centre. It can be hard to check, as sometimes traces of banana will cling to the skewer which might look like raw cake batter. If in doubt, bake for an extra 5 minutes. If this user cooked enough, it’ll collapse in the middle. 

 
  8. Slice and serve. It is especially delicious still warm from the oven. (Particularly if the chocolate is still slightly melty!). 

This loaf, if well covered, will keep for around a week.

Blueberry Bakewells

These are a nice little treat and a great way to use up blueberries as you only need 125g. Try as I might, raw blueberries really don’t do anything for me, but in muffins or a pie they come to life. I made these yesterday to fulfil a colleague’s request, as he asked for blueberry muffins or cherry bakewells so I thought these felt like a good compromise. They do take a bit of time to make though as you’ll need to put the pastry in the fridge to chill at various points in the process but it’s a great recipe to fit in around other Sunday cooking. 

  
For the pastry, you will need: 

100g, chilled salted butter,cubed

200g plain flour

40g icing sugar

1 egg

For the blueberry filling:

125g blueberries

1 tbsp caster sugar

Squeeze of lemon juice

For the frangipane:

55g salted butter, softened to room temperature

55g caster sugar

40g ground almonds

15g plain flour

1 large egg

  
1. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients for the pastry until they resemble even crumbs. 

  
2. Beat the egg then mix into the crumbed mixture. Gently knead into a dough but don’t overwork it to keep the pastry nice and short. Then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes. 

  
3. In the mean time, put the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and set on a gentle heat, stirring every now and then. 

  
4. Once the blueberries have started to produce juice, you might want to help the berries to pop by pushing down on them with a spoon. Keep cooking until the mixture resembles a jam, thick and shiny.

5. Allow to cool and then push through a sieve. This may take some time if you want to get as much juice out as possible whilst keeping the skins separate. Then set aside. 

  
6. Roll it the chilled pastry as thin as you dare – the thinner the better. If it’s a warm day, you may want to fold up the rolled out pastry and put it back in the fridge before cutting out circles. If you do refrigerate it, roll it out again once you take it out to smooth out any creases.

7. Grease a 12-well muffin tin. Use a round cutter or large glass if you’re struggling, to cut out 12 rounds to form the bases of the pastry cases. You may need to gather the remnants together and re-roll to get the full 12. You may also need to re hill the dough if it becomes unworkable. Place these into the base of each well. 

8. Cut inch-wide strips from the remaining pastry to form the sides of the cases, merging it carefully with the edges of the bases and at the join.

  
9. Gently prick the bases with a fork then put back in the fridge to chill for half an hour. 

10. Just before you take the cases back out of the fridge, preheat the oven to 160C fan and then make your frangipane. Do this by creaming together the butter and sugar, mixing in the egg and folding in the flour and ground almonds.

11. Remove the pastry cases from the fridge and spoon the blueberry filling into the base of each case, dividing as evenly as possible. 

 
12. Do the same with the frangipane, being careful not to mix this into the blueberry too much, but it is difficult and requires patience!

  13. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the pastry and topping are golden. 

  Carefully remove from the tin (a sharp knife may help) and sprinkle with icing sugar.

  
Enjoy with a cup of tea! 

  

Mocha Cake 

It was my Dad’s birthday recently and I wanted to make him a birthday cake that was manly enough to qualify for a man’s birthday treat. I spent 3 nights researching exactly the right flavour combination and the best recipes to provide what I was looking for.  I’ve always thought there was something brilliant about a great, moist flavoured cake with real frosting.  This was the result – not too sweet, not too rich, decorated with chocolate shavings and pecans. 

  
For the sponge, you will need:

225g butter, left out at room temperature to soften but not melt

225g golden caster sugar

4 large eggs

200ml espresso or strongly brewed coffee, cooled

4 tsp cocoa powder

225g self-raising flour 

  
For the chocolate buttercream, you will need:

150g good quality 70% cocoa chocolate 

75g salted butter, again softened

150g icing sugar 

1 large egg yolk

  
1. Brew the coffee. Ideally you want enough shots of espresso to measure 200ml. Preheat the oven to 180C fan. Grease and line two sandwich cake pans. 

2. Measure out the butter and cream until fluffy, ideally with a hand-held electric mixer.

2. Add in the sugar, and mix again, getting in as much air as you can. 

3. Add the eggs in, one by one, mixing after each addition. Once they’ve all been added, whip up until airy and moussey. Add in the coffee and mix again. 

4. Fold in the cocoa powder and flour until just mixed in. 

  
5. Split the mixture between the cake pans. I like to weigh it as I go along to make sure they are relatively even. 

6. Put in the oven and bake for around 20-25 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Remove from the oven, leave to cool a little and then turn out. 

7. While the sponges are baking and cooling (bring mindful of time in the oven) start working on the chocolate buttercream. The first step is to break up the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. The saucepan should be slightly smaller than the rim of the bowl, the right size to keep it suspended over the water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, or you’ll risk burning the chocolate. Stir occasionally until it has all melted then take off the heat and allow to cool, stirring every now and then.

8. In the mean time, weigh out the butter and whiz up with the electric beaters (now clean!) until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and beat once more, before combining the cooked melted chocolate and egg yolk.

 
9. Peel the paper off of the sponges then place one on a cake board or plate, domed top facing down. Use about 1/3 of the buttercream to cover the top of the sponge, spread evenly then top with the second sponge.

 
10. Spread the remaining buttercream evenly over the top and sides of the cake, making sure there are no spaces where the sponge can be seen. 

  

11. Top with chocolate shavings and evenly spaced pecan halves, or your preferred decoration. Chocolate-covered coffee beans would work well. 

  

Serve or give away – perfect with a nice cup of tea or coffee.   

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I had a project meeting to attend in Edinburgb last week, and one of my colleagues requested that I should supply some sort of baked breakfast (he has requested cherry bakewells for next month so watch this space!). Recently, the company has been providing us with weekly fresh fruit boxes, meaning there is often a glut left at the end of the week. This time, there were a gazillion ripe bananas left over. They were just crying out to be baked into something. Banana bread seemed too obvious, and wouldn’t travel as well, so I set about scratching my head and looking through my books. These were the result (courtesy of Nigella), however, if I had my time again I would have added a cup of chocolate chips to the batter. I contemplated it at the time but decided that Nigella knows best!  

 You will need:

3 ripe bananas

125ml vegetable oil

2 eggs

100g soft light brown sugar

225g plain flour

45g cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Muffin tin and 12 muffin cases 

Optional: 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

  
1. Mash the bananas and mix with sugar and oil until thick and creamy. 

2. Crack in the eggs and mix again until you have incorporated plenty of air. 

3. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and fold in until just combined. 

4. Optional – add in the chocolate chips and gently mix. 

  
5. Place the muffin cases in the tray and divide the mixture as evenly as you can between them. I usually add a tablespoon to each case and then divide the rest of the mixture between the cases as evenly as possible i.e. half a tablespoon at a time until all used up. 

6. Bake at 190C fan for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch. 

  

Honey and Peanut Butter Granola Bars

These guys may not be as healthy as you’d like, but they are packed with nutritious stuff and will keep you going all morning as an at-your-desk-with-coffee snack breakfast or on the go (great for your train commute!). And they might just keep your hands out of the biscuit tin. 

The other great thing about these is that you can add all sorts of great ingredients to them to make them to your liking: your favourite dried fruits, nuts and seeds, difference cereals, additional spices, almond butter, perhaps, if you don’t like peanut, or even chocolate chips!

You will need a square cake tin or brownie pan for this, but if you don’t have one you could try using a cake tin and cutting it as you fancy, but a loose bottom is really helpful. Grease the tin but experience tells me not to line it with greaseproof paper!

You will need:

125g salted butter

150g light brown sugar 

1tsp cinnamon or mixed spice (optional)

125g crunchy peanut butter, no added sugar, or another but butter of your choice

75g runny honey, plus extra to glaze

Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon (not essential!)

200g porridge oats

200g dried fruits, I like a mixture of sultanas, dried cranberries, raisins and dried apricots

100g mixed seeds and/or chopped nuts, I like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaked almonds

  
1. Preheat the oven to 160C. 

2. Put a medium to large saucepan on a low to medium heat and add in the butter, sugar, honey, spice, zest and peanut butter and allow to start melting together before stirring occasionally. Be careful with the heat as you don’t want the sugar to burn, but you do want the sugar to melt and for the ingredients to be nicely combined. 

   
3. Meanwhile, weigh out the oats, fruits, seeds and nuts you have chosen and mix together in a bowl. I like to keep back some flaked almonds and sunflower seeds to sprinkle over the top for texture.

  
4. When your liquid ingredients have melted and combined, stir in the dry ingredients until everything is nicely combined – you’ll want to avoid any dry oat patches. I like to keep this on a very gentle heat while I’m doing this so nothing stiffens up too much. When you’re happy, pour into the prepared tin and spread out, but try not to be too tempted to eat too much of the raw mixture off of the spoon!

  
5. Once it’s all smooth in the tin, sprinkle over the reserved seeds and nuts and drizzle over some more honey…..this is easiest if your honey comes in a squeezy bottle. 

   
6. Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges and caramelised in the middle. Be careful not to burn them!

7. When they’re ready, take out of the oven and allow to cool. If you’ve used a greased loose bottomed pan you can just push the bottom up (I like to use an upturned mug or canister to help with this – set the loose part on the canister and help the sides to drop away) then you can lever it off the base with a pallette knife where you can cut it up into bars. I like to wrap them individually in cling film and keep them in an airtight tub. Then should keep for around 2 weeks, but I’ve often had them after that and they’ve still been great. 

  

 

Coconut Cream Cake

Hey everyone, sorry this is a bit late. I’ve been in a training session at a hotel all day today (where the heating was turned up way too high) and ended up being seated next to the Directors at lunch so no break for me! At least I’m going on holiday in 10 days, but more about that soon. In the meantime…..cake!

This is a beautiful, light, not too sweet cake, which is perfect with a cup of Earl Grey, and a lovely break from chocolate cake, cupcakes, cookies……not that they aren’t great in their own way! Plus, you get to use up that tin of coconut cream that has been lolling about in your cupboard for awhile.

A tip for using coconut cream – if you live somewhere cold or it’s winter, you may find that your coconut cream has split into solid parts and watery parts due to the cold temperatures. To fix this, gently heat it in a saucepan, stirring to combine, then take it off the heat and allow it to cool a little before using it.

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You will need:

175g softened butter

175g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons coconut cream

175g self-raising flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

50g desiccated coconut

For the icing and filling:

100g softened butter

3-4 tbs coconut cream

280g icing (confectioners’) sugar

jam to fill the cake, I like the sharpness of raspberry

50g or so desiccated coconut

glitter sugar, I used gold (optional)

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1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan. Prepare 2 sandwich tins by lining with greaseproof paper and greasing with butter.

2. Cream the butter with a hand/standing mixer until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream again. Mix in the coconut cream and beat.

3. Crack in the eggs and beat until the mixture is full of air and almost mousse-like. Add the coconut and mix in.

4. Fold in the flour and baking powder, gently, trying to keep the air in, and stop mixing as soon as the flour has been properly combined with the mixture.

5. Divined the mixture between the tins and bake for 15-20 mins, or until golden and only just springy to the touch, with the cake coming away from the edges. Allow to cool a little then turn out, peeling the paper from the bases. It’s a good idea to run a paring knife around the edge to stop sticking and breaking first. Set aside to cool completely.

6. Best the softened butter until lighter and fluffy. Add the coconut cream and icing sugar (bring careful not to let it puff out all over you and the kitchen) and cream until combined and fluffy.

7. Once the cakes have cooled, place one upside down on a plate or board. Spread a good layer of jam on it then sandwich the other layer on top.

8. Spread the coconut icing over the top and sides of the cake with a knife or spoon then decorate with sprinklings of coconut and glitter sugar.