Raspberry Upside-down Cake

Raspberry Upside-Down Cake
Wotchers!

Who doesn’t love an upside-down cake?

Well, truth be told, me, actually – until I met this one!

Whenever I think of an upside down cake, its always been pineapple, and due to the huge number of vintage recipe books I read, it always appears in my mind as being made with pineapple from a tin, and gaudy, startlingly red glacé cherries in the holes in the middles of the slices. Now whether it is the sweet tinned pinapple (not a fan), the glacé cherries (really not a fan), the sweet-on-sweet-on-sweet or the whole 1950s vibe, it just doesn’t look appealing to me.

Sidebar: surprisingly, a quick internet image search reveals that the pineapple ring/cherry thing appears to still be going strong in the 21st century. Who’da thunk.

Anyhoo…

I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found in a booklet of Breton recipes I snapped up at one of the French brocantes we wandered through this summer. Made with fresh raspberries, the sharp flavour of the soft, gently baked fruit is a great contrast with the sweet, lemon sponge. ( See also Fruit Sponge). Add cream – single, double, clotted or fraiche – if you like, but I really enjoy this as is.

Confession: OK, so in essence I really only changed the shape of the tin, the cooking time and added some filled fresh raspberries on the top for presentation. The original recipe recommended a 24cm circular tin and a shorter cooking time, but after the notorious Pacman photo of July, I’ve been a bit twitchy about using circular tins.

Sidebar 2: This is not a pretty, pretty cake. Behold, Exhibit A.

It is, however, delicious, simple to make and a perfect treat to enjoy those autumn-ripening raspberries that are a little too squishy to turn into jam.

Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

750g raspberries – divided
4tbs caster sugar

3 large eggs – separated
125g caster sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
125g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
100g unsalted butter

4tbs seedless raspberry jam
icing sugar

  • Grease and line the base and sides of your chosen tin with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. I used a long, narrow IKEA loaf tin but you could opt for the original 24cm round tin.
  • Pick out about 200g of the best raspberries for decoration. Set aside.
  • Add 450-500g fresh raspberries to the tin. Sprinkle with the 4tbs caster sugar.
  • Cut the butter into 2cm cubes and put into hand-temperature water to soften.
  • Heat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Whisk the egg-whites to stiff peaks.
  • Whisk the yolks and the remaining caster sugar together until pale and fluffy – about 5 minutes.
  • Add the lemon zest and juice and mix in.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the egg mixture gradually, ensuring the flour is fully mixed in.
  • Using a balloon whisk – or the whisk attachment of your stand mixer – stir in one third of the egg-whites to the egg mixture to lighten the mix, then gently fold in the remainder.
  • Drain the water from the butter and fold the softened butter into the mixturewith the whisk.
  • Pour the mixture over the raspberries and spread smooth.
  • Bake until the sponge is risen and cooked. This takes 40-45 minutes in a loaf tin. If you chose a 24cm round tin, the recipe suggests 25 minutes, but use your own checks to confirm the cake is cooked through.
  • When cooked, remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning out onto your serving dish/plate and removing the baking parchment.

To decorate

  • Spoon the jam into a piping bag and snip of the end to give a 3-4mm opening.
  • Pipe a little jam into the hollow cores of the remaining raspberries.
  • Arrange the filled raspberries over the top of the cake and dust with icing suger to serve.

Hokkaido Double Cheesecake

Hokkaido Double Cheesecake
Wotchers!

This recipe is a perfect summer dessert and, for a cheesecake, is very maker-friendly.

Most delightfully, this cheesecake is light. Light, light, light. Each mouthful is a cloud of deliciousness on your tongue, a delicate waft of creamy flavours that dissolves in a puff of….

[crickets]

[tumbleweed]

[crickets]

OK, so I’ve sat here trying to think of something to end that, frankly embarrassing, stream of pretentiousness and come up blank – mostly due to me just having taken a bite of said cheesecake in order to try and capture the experience and kinda just got lost in appreciation.

ANYHOO…

Sidetracking on to the composition….

This is a three-layer cheesecake consisting of a fatless sponge base, a baked cream-cheese layer and a mascarpone mousse layer all covered with a dusting of sponge cake crumbs.

Baked cheesecakes can be a source of worry, through fear of overbaking and thereby causing cracks to appear once they cool down. With this recipe, that kind of stress is eliminated, because the baked layer is covered with the mascarpone mousse layer. And if, while your mousse is chilling, the clingfilm sticks to the top, causing wrinkles to be created as the gelatine sets, it’s not a drama, because the whole thing is covered with the crumbs, giving it an appearance that just reinforces the lightness and fluffiness of the cake as a whole.

Fans of this blog will already be familiar with one type of Japanese cheesecake, but this recipe is on a whole other level. I was initially sceptical of the lack of flavourings, but it is absolutely the right decision. The flavour of the sponge and the cheeses are delicate but distinct and as I’ve already mentioned, light, light, light. After tasting, there’s none of the ‘Excuse me while I fall into a dairy coma’ or ‘Help! Help! My arteries are filling with cheesecake’ feelings associated with too much indulging of regular baked cheesecakes.

You’ve probably realised by now that this is not my recipe. It is, in fact, the signature bake of the LeTAO bakery chain from the city of Otaru, on the island of Hokkaido, Japan where it sells for 1728 Yen (£12.85). In an unusually generous move, the bakery has shared both its recipe and method online, which is where I stumbled across it. (Linky for the curious).

The English subtitles are a bit bonkers.  They start off OK-ish – “The first thing to make is the sponge fabric that forms the basis of google fromage”, move swiftly on to “If baked skin becomes full-coloured, [musics], Sponge cloth no” and before you know it, we’re at “Simmer outside the last emperor.”

So I decided to help spread the word of this delightful dessert and add details where there were none, and calm down the bonkers to ‘mildly eccentric’.

I hope you like it.

Hokkaido Double Cheesecake

It’s best to prepare this the day before it is wanted, and allow the mousse to set overnight in the fridge. This will make a cake to serve six to eight people, depending on the generosity of your slices. Or just one.

Fatless Sponge
2 large eggs
70g caster sugar
60g plain flour

  • Heat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
  • Sift the flour.
  • Grease and line the sides and base of a 15cm round cake tin* with baking parchment. Grease the parchment.
  • Put the eggs and the sugar into a metal bowl over simmering water and whisk until light and fluffy and a temperature of 50°-60°C. Using an electric whisk, this will take 10-15 minutes.
  • Fold in the flour then pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  • Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn out onto a cloth-covered rack to cool completely.
  • Reduce the oven heat to 150°C, 130°C Fan.
  • Clean and re-line your tin with parchment.
  • Cut a horizontal slice from the cake 2cm¹ deep and lay it in the bottom of your pan

Cream cheese filling
140g cream cheese
50g caster sugar
4g plain flour
30ml double cream
1 large egg

  • Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk to a smooth consistency.
  • Pour the mixture over the sponge base.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the edges are set and the middle wobbly. It will carry on cooking as it cools.
  • Set aside to cool, then chill in the fridge.

Mascarpone mousse
1 sheet gelatine²
140g double cream²
30g caster sugar
25ml water
1 large yolk
60g Mascarpone cheese

  • Put the gelatine to soak in water.
  • Whisk the double cream until firm. Set aside.
  • Put the sugar, water and yolk in a metal bowl over simmering water and whisk until fluffy and thickened slightly.
  • Add the gelatine and stir until melted.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the mascarpone.
  • Fold in the whipped cream.
  • Sieve the mixture if it is not smooth (I found this unnecessary) and pour over the baked cheesecake layer.
  • Cover and chill in the fridge overnight.

To Finish

the remains of the fatless sponge
A little cream

    • Trim the crust from the top/bottom/edges of the cake, leaving just the golden crumb, and break it into pieces.
    • Add the cake pieces to the bowl of a food processor and blitz until crumbs.
    • Remove the cheesecake from the tin.
    • Using a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of cream over the top and sides of the cheesecake.
    • Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the cake and press lightly into the sides so that the whole cake is covered with this pale yellow down of cake crumbs.
    • Serve.

In case you missed it: Over on DejaFood.uk the latest post is Sultan Cream Tart.

 

* It might be my eyes playing tricks on me, but from the video it certainly looks as if the size of the tin changes, getting larger from baking to filling. Whilst you can make this in a larger tin, the layers will obviously be much thinner than the 2cm in the above photo. I like how, with the thicker sponge layer, it’s pretty much three equal layers. If you don’t have a tin this small, consider doubling the recipe to keep the layers impressive.

¹ The original recipe says 1cm, but I find that a bit thin to provide any kind of ‘support’ for the filling – it is such a light sponge, when the 1cm sponge layer draws moisture from the baked layer it becomes over-saturated and soggy.

² The original recipe called for 3g powdered gelatine and didn’t appear to distinguish what type of cream. I prefer working with sheet gelatine, so I tried this recipe with both double and whipping cream, and using one and two sheets respectively. Overall, the double cream/1 sheet had the better texture, a barely-there set that melted in the mouth. The whipping cream/2 sheet version was fine, just a little firm for my tastes.


Mini Christmas Puddings

GF Xmas Pudding
Wotchers!

Well, friends, I’m afraid it’s that time of year where we must turn our thoughts to next month’s festive season. As menu planning seems to get earlier and earlier each year, if I am to SURPRISE and DELIGHT your festive table, I need to be even more ahead of the game, so here we are.

I like traditional Christmas Pudding. I like its dark richness, studded with jewel-like fruits, crunchy nuts and tangy peel. I like its dense nature and the accompanying wide choice of accessories with which you can adorn your plate: pouring cream, whipped cream, clotted cream, custard, white sauce, brandy butter, rum butter…

What I’m not so keen on is facing it after a comprehensive but daunting Christmas Day lunch with all the trimmings, after a morning that has invariably involved snacks both sweet and savoury. By the time pudding is served, no-one usually has the energy or the inclination to do it justice.

So what I have for you here is an alternative. Something that satisfies the craving for the traditional flavours, without the, lets not deny it, heaviness of a traditional pudding. Just look at it! ”Bejewelled” is not an exaggeration, especially when served on a sparkling glass dish. As a bonus, it doesn’t involve any heavy mixing and steaming and re-steaming.

GF Xmas Pudding with nutmeg for scale

Mini Xmas Pudding with nutmegs for scale.

A riotous mix of dried fruits, nuts and peel is macerated in alcohol (not compulsory, fruit juice is absolutely fine), then set in a tangy, lemon jelly in little moulds. The flavours stay bright and fresh, the portions are small, and tradition can still be observed. The jelly acts as a palate cleanser, really waking up the tastebuds in preparation for the ensuing onslaught of nuts, chocolates and drinks as the rest of the day trundles on. It’s gluten-free and can also be vegetarian/vegan with the use of appropriate setting agents for the lemon jelly.

half-sphere mould

I used a silicone mould like this. It’s known as a half-sphere or hemisphere mould. Each shape is of diameter 55mm. It is the perfect size for individual desserts and one of my most used silicon moulds.

Mini Christmas Puddings

These quantities make eight mini puddings. You may have a little lemon jelly left over, but just set it by itself for a delicious, refreshing mouthful.

40g prunes, diced fine
40g sultanas
40g raisins
20g currants
40g candied peel, diced fine
40g glace cherries, each cut into 8 pieces
20g preserved ginger, chopped
20g flaked or slivered almonds
80ml cream sherry or apple juice

Lemon Jelly
2 sheets gelatine (or vegan/vegetarian alternative)
2tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
2tbs caster sugar
150ml water

  • Mix the fruit and nuts and pour over the sherry/juice. Leave to soak for 2 hours. If, at the end of this time, the fruit hasn’t absorb all of the liquid, try zapping it briefly in the microwave to warm it through.
  • Put the mould onto a baking sheet or tin to give it stability. Spoon the mixture into your individual moulds and smooth over.
  • Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the 150ml of water in the microwave or in a pan, and add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until dissolved. Adjust the taste with more of either or both as liked.
  • Squeeze the gelatine sheets free of excess water and add to the lemon syrup. Stir until dissolved.
  • Pour the lemon jelly into each mould, allowing the jelly to seep between the fruit and fill all the little gaps. Tap the baking tray lightly onto the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles and add more jelly as required.
  • Lay a piece of cling film lightly over the surface on the mould, to prevent evaporation, and chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours until firm.
  • To serve, loosen the jellies by standing the mould in hot water for 10-15 seconds before turning them out.
  • Serve with cream and/or brandy butter.

Paradise Slices

Paradise Slices

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something glu…ten-free

Wotchers!

Bit of a bumper-fun bonus this week, with not one, not two, not three but FOUR recipes, each named Paradise Slice. Initially I was just going to make a post with two contratic recipes, but I got a bit carried away.

It all started with me reading a recipe in a small, vintage paperback pamphlet from the S.W.R.I. of Shapinsay, in Orkney. Their Paradise Slice comprised a rich, almond sponge, studded with dried fruits, candied cherries and baked in a shortcrust pastry case. Lovely, I thought. Baked it, and decided it needed tweaking a little, so made it again, this time with my crisp, cornflour shortcrust, which makes for a delicious contrast with the rich, buttery almond sponge, and also swapped in some confit fruit I’d bought on holiday in France.

Then I discovered a much-requested Paradise Slice in the Los Angeles Times, which was very different indeed: dark, rich, chewy and studded with pecans. Lovely, I thought – right up until I read how many calories it had per serving. So I did some tweaking and also reduced the batch size, making a slice now only 200 calories as opposed to, originally, over 500.

Then it occurred to me that I shouldn’t forget people with gluten intolerances. So I adapted a recipe from Sainsbury’s magazine that used as its base a mixture of popcorn and rice cereal. With a few more tweaks I managed to get each slice of this particular paradise down to less than 100 calories. Lovely, I thought.

Finally, being inspired by all these delicious contrasting bakes,  I decided to create my own Paradise Slice. I wanted it to have similar tropical ingredients, but be a different texture and flavour experience. I took the topping from the Hungarian Cheesecake and added lime and orange zest and juice, because the acid in the citrus juice reacts with the condensed milk to make a cheesecake-like mixture without all the faff. I mixed in some crushed pineapple and desiccated coconut and also stirred through a little creme fraiche for sharpness. I poured this onto the base from the L.A.Times recipe and left it to set in a cooling oven before chilling in the fridge. The result is fantastically tropical, fresh-tasting and not overly sweet.  It cuts beautifully, as the coconut takes up excess moisture as it sets in the oven, and can be enjoyed as a dessert or as an accompaniment to coffee. Best of all, it too is a storecupboard recipe, especially if, like me, you have a bag of Seville orange zest/juice cubes in the freezer (I cannot recommend this highly enough, so useful to have their tangy, bitter/sharp flavour on hand throughout the year).

Bloody lovely, I thought!

Shapinsay Paradise Slice – Makes 16 slices

Shapinsay Paradise Slice

The original recipe called for sultanas, raisins and glace cherries in equal measure. Nowadays we have a much wider selection of preserved fruit, so I heartily encourage you to go wild with whatever combination you fancy – mango, papaya, apricots, candied peel – whatever seems like paradise!

Cornflour shortcrust pastry – recipe here

115g unsalted butter – softened
115g caster sugar
2 large eggs
60g self-raising flour
60g ground almonds
a little milk for mixing

100g dried/candied fruit
2tbs cornflour

4-5tbs jam – I suggest apricot, but anything slightly sharp will be suitable also.
1tbs caster sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Roll the pastry out thinly (3mm) and line a greased (and lined if liked) baking tin of dimensions roughly 18cm by 28cm. Prick the base with a fork.
  • Line with baking paper and beads/rice and bake for 12 minutes.
  • Remove the baking paper and beads/rice and bake for a further 8 minutes for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Brush the hot pastry with jam and set aside while the rest of the filling is prepared.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Toss the fruit in the cornflour until thoroughly coated. Tip into a sieve to remove the excess cornflour.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well each time.
  • Fold in the flour and ground almonds.
  • Stir in a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency – that is, it drops freely from a spoon.
  • Spread half od the mixture over the pastry case.
  • Stir the fruit into the remaining half of the mixture, then drop in spoonfuls over the plain mixture. This method will help prevent the fruit immediately sinking to the bottom of the sponge.
  • Smooth over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the sponge is springy to the touch and nicely browned.
  • Sprinkle over the caster sugar whilst hot.
  • Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • When cold, slice into serving portions with a sharp knife.
  • Store in an airtight container.

San Diego Paradise Slice – Makes 16 slices

San Diego Paradise Bars

Adapted from the recipe of Bread & Cie, printed in the L.A.Times.

For the base
85g unsalted butter
85g wholemeal flour
75g dark muscovado sugar

For the topping
200g dark muscovado sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
20g wholemeal flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
100g unsweetened desiccated coconut
125g pecans

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C, 155°C Fan.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment. I used one of dimensions 20cm x 28cm, but anything roughly that size is fine.
  • Put the base ingredients into a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Muscovado sugar can be a bit clumpy and this is a speedy and efficient way to break down the lumps.
  • Spread the mixture into the prepared tin. Pack it down firmly – use a flat-bottomed glass tumbler or similar to get a really smooth, firm surface.
  • Bake the base for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy (about 5 minutes).
  • Stir in the flour mixture, the coconut and the pecans.
  • Pour this mixture over the base and smooth over.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes until set.
  • Cool in the tin.
  • When cold, cut into 16 bars,.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Popcorn Paradise Slice – makes 32 gluten-free slices

Popcorn Paradise Slice

This paradise slice is a variation on the rice krispie bar but with the added flavour of popcorn. I’ve decided to use air-popped popcorn, to reduce both the sugar and fat content. Air-popped corn uses no fat in the pan, just the heat from the stove to make the corn pop. I also tweaked the original recipe to include more fruit. The quantities below are to be seen as guidelines only – use whatever mix of fruit and nuts takes your fancy, just keep to the overall weight of fruit/nuts to no more than 250g.

75g popping corn
75g gluten-free rice cereal
200g mixed, tropical fruit
50g coconut ribbons
300g marshmallows
50g unsalted butter

  • Put the popping corn into a clean, dry saucepan and cover with a lid.
  • Put the pan over medium heat and shake it vigorously to keep the kernels from burning before they pop.
  • When all the popping sounds have ceased, tip the popped corn into a bowl to cool. Wipe the pan with a clean cloth.
  • Pick out any un-popped kernels.
  • When cool, add in the rice cereal, fruit and nuts and mix thoroughly.
  • Line a large baking tray (24cm x 36cm-ish) with foil and grease lightly with either spray or butter.
  • Put the marshmallows and butter into the pan and heat gently until both have melted. Stir thoroughly.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the pan and stir well, ensuring as even a coating as possible for all of the ingredients.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press down firmly. If you prefer to use your hands, cover the mix with some greased cling film first.
  • Chill in the fridge until completely cold, then cut into 32 fingers.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Coconut Pineapple Paradise Slice – makes 16 slices

This is possibly the easiest, in terms of effort, of all four recipes, as it is mostly just letting the oven or the fridge do all the work.

Coconut Pineapple Paradise

It is another of my Lego™ recipes – stick a bit of recipe A onto recipe B, add a little something-something and, as Jeff Goldblum would say…

You can use any two citrus fruits you like, but I don’t recommend two of the same, as then they tend to gang up on the other ingredients and overpower them. And definitely not two Seville oranges – the bitter is too much for the pineapple. I’ve also tried this with fresh pineapple for an even fresher taste, but the juice content didn’t allow it to set as firmly as I’d have liked. Were I to try this again, I’d sprinkle the chopped pineapple with sugar to help draw out as much moisture as possible.

For the base
85g unsalted butter
85g wholemeal flour
75g dark muscovado sugar

For the topping
1 x 400g-ish tin crushed pineapple in juice
1 x 400g-ish tin sweetened condensed milk
100g low fat creme fraiche (or thick sour cream)
zest & juice of 1 lime
zest & juice of 1 orange – Seville if you have it
100g dessicated coconut

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C, 155°C Fan.
  • Open the tin of pineapple and tip it into a sieve over a bowl. Leave to drain for about an hour – you want as much of the juice to drain out as possible.
  • Mix the condensed milk, creme fraiche and citrus together and stir thoroughly.
  • With a spatula, press the pineapple firmly to extract as much juice as possible. Yes, even after an hour’s draining. Repeat several times as necessary. When no more juice can be squeezed from it, add it to the condensed milk mixture and mix well.
  • Finally, stir in the coconut and set aside until required.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment. I used one of dimensions 20cm x 28cm, but anything roughly that size is fine.
  • Put the base ingredients into a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Muscovado sugar can be a bit clumpy and this is a speedy and efficient way to break down the lumps.
  • Spread the mixture into the prepared tin. Pack it down firmly – use a flat-bottomed glass tumbler or similar to get a really smooth, firm surface.
  • Bake the base for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Pour the filling over the cooked base and smooth over.
  • Return the tin to the oven and switch off the heat.
  • Leave the tray in the now cooling oven for two hours, then remove and leave to cool, if necessary.
  • Finally, chill thoroughly in the fridge (probably another 2 hours).
  • Cut into slices and serve.
  • Store in the fridge either covered or in an airtight container.

In case you missed it: This week over on DejaFood – Apricot Dream Slice


Frozen Fruit Cake

Wotchers!

Mention fruit cake in conversation and many people’s eyes will glaze over at the image of dark, heavy, dried fruit cakes of wintertime, but with this recipe you can make a light, fresh, sponge cake with a burst of freshness in every bite.

Regular listeners will recall my long quest for the perfect Apple Cake, as detailed in (shameless plug) MY FIRST BOOK – and the proportional recipe I found proved not too wet or heavy, lightly cakey, and with a real flavour of the fruit shining through.

This is the soft fruit version of that cake and has the added versatility of being able to be used as a base recipe for lots of different kinds of soft fruit.

It is adapted from a recipe for Blackcurrant Cake in Mrs C.F.Leyel’s Cakes of England (1936)¹. The original recipe called for fresh blackcurrants, but in the 21st century, not as many people have their own fruit bushes, or even access to a PYO fruit farm.

What we DO have access to is frozen fruit, picked and preserved within hours to maintain their quality. As well as bags in supermarkets, many farm shops also have ‘scoop your own’ fruits and berries in their freezers, to which you can help yourself to as much or as little as you like.

Whilst the cake in the above photograph is, indeed, made with blackcurrants, my experiments have confirmed that this recipe can be used with a whole range of soft fruits, and those fruits can be fresh, frozen or even canned.

The fruit makes this cake lovely and moist, and the sweetness of the cake itself contrasts deliciously with the sharp bursts of flavour from the berries. Due to the high levels  of moisture, it is not a cake that should be baked in a deep tin, as this runs the risk of being undercooked and having soggyness in the middle. A relatively shallow square tin, or traybake is ideal.

A further insurance against a soggy cake is to toss the fruit being used in a little cornflour. During baking, the cornflour will thicken any fruit juices that are released and prevent them from flooding the rest of the cake, and the cunning division of the dough means that your fruit will be evenly distributed throughout the finished cake, no matter how plump and juicy it might be.

Bonus: This cake is delicious as is, but can also be served warm as a pudding with a little cream or custard.

Frozen Fruit Cake

Mrs Leyel’s instructions begin ″Take equal quantities of flour, sugar and fresh blackcurrants. Rub the butter into the flour″, thereby being both unhelpfully vague and omitting mention of butter in the ingredients altogether. Nevertheless, after some experimentation, these quantities make a reasonably-sized cake. If you decide to increase the quantities, then increase the cooking time appropriately.

150g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
150g butter
150g caster sugar
150g fruit – fresh, frozen or if canned, drained
3tbs cornflour
2 large eggs, whisked
A little milk (maybe)
caster sugar for sprinkling

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Grease and line a 18-20cm square tin with parchment.
  • Put the flour, baking powder and butter into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Tip into a bowl and stir in the sugar.
  • Stir through the beaten eggs to form a dough. If the mixture seems a little dry, add enough milk to make a soft, scone-like dough.
  • Add HALF of this mixture to the tin and spread out.
  • Sprinkle the cornflour over the fruit and toss gently to coat.
  • Fold the fruit and any remaining cornflour into the remaining dough and transfer to the tin. Smooth over lightly. It should be about 4cm deep. NB This dividing of the dough wll help ensure the fruit is evenly distributed through the cooked cake. As demonstrated more familiarly with cherry cake, fruit has a tendency to ‘slide down’ through the cake mixture and congregate on the bottom of the tin. Adding a layer of fruitless mix in the bottom of the tin will not prevent this, merely slow the downeard progression of the fruit long enough for the cake around the fruit to cook and thus hold it in position.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes, turning the tin around after 30 minutes. NB Don’t be tempted to remove the cake too early. As already mentioned, the fruit lends quite a lot of moisture to the mix, so be sure that the cake is thoroughly cooked through before removing it from the oven by testing with a cocktail stick that the cake mixture is cooked and observing that the cake as a whole has shrunk away from the sides of the tin and is nicely browned on top.
  • Sprinkle with caster sugar and allow to cool in the tin. NB The moistness of the cake means that it is very fragile when first baked, and trying to remove it from the tin whilst warm runs the risk of it breaking apart.

¹ A fantastic collection of national and regional cakes. Recommended!

 

In case you missed it: Orange & Walnut Garland Cake on DejaFood.com


Molehill Cake

Molehill Cakes
Wotchers!

It’s been a while since I posted a cake recipe, so I thought I’d cheer up the chilly weather with a cakey treat.

And it’s fabulous!

I was initially a little conflicted about this cake: on the one hand it tastes amazing, but then it also falls into the category of my pet hate of ‘food looking like something that isn’t food’, even though it is achieved almost by accident. In the end the ease of baking/construction, coupled with the amazing flavours persuaded me to bend my own rules and I hope you’ll be as delighted with the result as I am.

It’s very straightforward, based on a chocolate sponge, and takes almost zero skill to put together. Huzzah!

I found it on a Romanian version of Pinterest, and it appears to be something Romanians can create from a Dr Oetker box cake mix.

However, there’s no need to resort to box cake mixes, no matter how convenient they might be. Hands up anyone who has eaten one and thought “Oh my! This tastes so convenient!”.

Quite.

So this is a hand-made version, which is only marginally less convenient but with added fresh, natural ingredients. I call it the very best kind of clean eating. I might start a food trend…..

ANYHOO….

Requiring just 2 bowls – one if you rinse it out after mixing the cake – it also requires practically zero washing up! Bonus!

The cake is my go-to, one-bowl chocolate yogurt cake, so easy you could mix it with just a spoon – although I recommend a balloon whisk. Once baked and cooled, the cake is hollowed out and the bottom filled with whole (or as whole as possible) bananas, then a creamy filling mounded on top. The cake that was hollowed out, plus any excess you cut off to level the top, are blitzed to crumbs and patted onto the mound of cream and voila! Something that resembles a molehill but with a much more appetising taste!

You can make one large cake, or, as I managed, one large and several small, individually-sized versions.

The filling can be as simple as sweetened, whipped cream, a custardy diplomat cream (crème patissière + gelatine + whipped cream) or, my favourite, a combination of cream cheese, crème fraiche and double cream, whipped to firmness with a little vanilla paste and icing sugar.

Also optional is whether or not to include some chocolate in your creamy filling. My daughter voted for chocolate chips in an earlier version (she also preferred diplomat cream), however I went for hand-chopped chocolate. Other options might be pure chocolate sprinkles or indeed none at all.

The comforting combination of the richness of the chocolate sponge, the freshness and sweetness of the banana, the creamy topping and the novelty of the overall appearance have immediately shot this cake into my top five list. In fact, the only downside of this cake is the time spent waiting for the cooked cake to cool down before you can fill it!

Mini Molehill Cakes

Molehill Cake

Chocolate Sponge Cake

150ml vegetable oil
150ml plain yoghurt
60ml golden syrup
170g caster sugar
3 large eggs
225g plain flour
50g cocoa
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C, 140°C Fan.
  • Line the bottom and sides of a deep 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
  • Put oil, yoghurt, syrup, caster sugar and eggs in a bowl and whisk together until well mixed.
  • Sift flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the bowl. Mix well.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
  • Bake in the oven for 60-75 minutes, until the cake has shrunk away from the sides, no bubbling sounds can be heard and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Yes, it does seem a long time, but the low temperature means it really needs the full allowance. The result is a beautifully-textured cake that actually improves on keeping, if you want to make it ahead. Additionally, the low-and-slow cooking means it is invariably gently and perfectly rounded on top and without any cracks.
  • Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Filling

300g cream cheese at room temperature
300ml low-fat creme fraîche
1-2tsp vanilla paste
2-3tbs icing sugar
300ml double cream
100g good quality chocolate – white, milk or plain – chopped fine

  • Mix the cream cheese, vanilla paste and creme fraîche thoroughly.
  • Add icing sugar to taste.
  • Add the double cream and whisk until firm.
  • Stir through the chopped chocolate.
  • Cover with plastic and chill until required.

To Assemble

cooled cake
4-5 bananas
cream filling

  • Cut the cake horizontally at a height of 4cm. If the cake has risen a lot, you might be able to cut it in half and make 2 large molehill cakes. Alternatively, you can cut out circles of sponge from either one or both halves using a baking ring to make individual-sized portions.
  • Cut a circle 2cm deep around the edge of the cake, 2cm from the edge.
  • Hollow out the middle of the cake so that the remaining sponge resembles a tart case. Be careful not to cut through the bottom of the cake. Reserve the cake scraps.
  • Lay whole bananas in the hollow, making sure they cover the whole of the bottom of the cake.
  • Pile the cream filling on top, using a palette knife to shape it into a tall mound.
  • Blitz the cake scraps to crumb and press lightly onto the sides of the cream until completely covered.
  • You can serve the cake immediately, but it does benefit from being wrapped in foil and thoroughly chilled in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Overnight is ideal.
  • Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Valentine Hearts

Heart Pies
Wotchers!

If you fancy making a romantic effort for your nearest and dearest, you could spoil them with a fancy-schmancy, gourmet meal, and spend the next three days shopping/chopping/baking/caking/slaving.

Or you could buy a roll of puff pastry and check out some other Valentines Breakfast or dessert ideas from a few years ago.

Or you could make these pastry hearts, using a recipe you already know and love, and a filling you know s/he loves. They are neither complicated nor elaborate, but last time I checked, stress in the kitchen was not an aphrodisiac.

The pastry is a regular sweet shortcrust, with a little food colouring added to the iced water used to mix it together – a shade a little lighter than red wine in the water makes for this lovely pastel pink once mixed. If inclined, you could even make 2 or 3 batches, each of a different shade of red/pink for an eye-catching jumble of hearts.

I chose a filling of vanilla pastry cream, made with real vanilla bean and firmed up with a little gelatin for ease of piping. If your loved one has a favourite sandwich filling then go with that – Nutella, peanut butter, banana, Banoffi-pie caramel, slices of apple, all of the above….

Don’t limit it to sweet flavours. If your Valentine has a savoury tooth,  fill his/her hearts with sausage, cheese, omelette, bacon, all of the above…

Pastry Hearts

1 x batch of shortcrust pastry, sweet or savoury, mixed with red-coloured water, chilled for 1 hour – here, or for unsweetened here or for savoury, here
suitable fillings, sweet or savoury

  • Divide the chilled pastry in half. Roll out each half thinly (2-3mm) and cut into twice as many squares as you require of around 10cm in size.
  • Turn half of the squares so that one corner is pointing toward you and pipe/arrange your filling in heart shapes onto the pastry. Be sure to pile up the filling quite well, in order to give substance to your ‘hearts’.
  • Using a pastry brush and water, dampen the edges of the pastry around the filling.
  • Lay a second piece of pastry over the top and smooth it down and around your filling, making sure its fully enclosed. Try to make sure there’s no air trapped inside, as this may cause your pastry to burst during cooking.
  • Using a sharp knife, trim the excess pastry, leaving a border of 1cm around each heart.
  • Transfer the pastry hearts to a baking sheet lined with parchment. I didn’t poke holes in the pastry, but I did get a bit of the filling oozing out on one or two. To avoid this, you could poke some vent holes in the tops in a decorative pattern.
  • Chill in the fridge while the oven heats up.
  • Heat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Add a glaze if liked – milk and caster sugar for sweet, egg-white for savoury. I did experiment with both of these, but decided the unglazed puffs were more visually striking.
  • Bake for 11-12 minutes, turning the baking sheet around half-way through.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • If sweet, dust lightly with icing sugar to serve.