Category Archives: Iced Cakes

Brush of the February Blues – Poppyseed and Vanilla Buttercream Cake

Hello fellow bakers – its been a while!

My radio silence is the result of an attempt in our household for some new year healthy eating, and the impending end to my PhD, which has required all my time and energy. However, last weekend I needed a break, I needed a cake, so I decided to bake!

When I was a kid, we lived in Germany. I think this was probably where my love of baked goods started. The cakes in Germany are to die for – all decadence and richness – and poppyseed cake is a classic. this is an extra decedent version – from the lovely Bake by Rachel Allen – with a more complicated that usual butter icing that is essentially a custard mixed with butter, but its worth the extra effort. This cake goes a long way because the icing is super rich, but the poppyseeds give the cake itself a lovely almost savoury, nutty taste, which works beautifully with the sweet icing. Just make sure you use a fresh pack of poppyseeds as stale ones would really spoil it.

CAKE INGREDIENTS: 150g butter (salted if possible, or add a pinch of salt to the mix), 100g caster sugar, 3 beaten eggs, 100g plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 75g poppyseeds.

  • Heat the oven to 170 degrees and grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
  • Firstly, you need to make sure your butter is really soft (I give it a very short blast in the microwave), then cream it with the sugar. Keep going until its light and fluffy – it’ll change colour and go really pale.
  • Keep mixing, and gradually add the eggs – do this really slowly and beat between each addition or it will curdle (although this isn’t the end of the world).
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together, add the poppyseeds and chuck the whole lot in with the butter mixture. Then use a spoon to stir gently all together.
  • Spoon into the tin and flatten out, making a dent in the middle so that the cake rises flat, and bake for 25-30 mins. My cake took 26mins but it depends on your oven.
  • Once out of the oven, leave in the tin for 5 minutes to cool and then remove to a cooling rack.

ICING INGREDIENTS: 150ml milk, 100g caster sugar, 2 egg yolks, 175g butter (softened and unsalted), 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

  • Put the milk and sugar in a pan and heat over a medium heat until the sugar is disolved and the milk starts to boil. It should start to thicken a bit and go a bit like syrup. When its reached this stage (5-10 mins) take off the heat and let it cool a bit.
  • In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks and once the milk is cooled a little – so the eggs don’t scramble – pour the milk over the eggs and keep whisking! Return the mixture to the pan and put it on a low heat and keep stirring. Don’t let it boil and keep mixing so it doesn’t stick. Within about 10 minutes you’ll have a thickening custard. Once you’ve reached this stage, pour it into a cold bowl/jug and leave to cool.
  • In a separate bowl beat the butter until smooth and lightened and add in the vanilla. When the custard is at room temperature, add that to the butter and whisk together.

When the cake and icing are cooled, spread the icing all over the cake, including down the sides. By covering the whole cake, you’ll find it keeps quite well and stays moist. You should end up with something that looks like this!

A very rich and creamy icing, for a slightly nutty cake.

A very rich and creamy icing, for a slightly nutty cake.

A slice is nice!

A slice is nice!

Keep the cake in the fridge and it’ll last for about 5 days, although I found it was nice to pop a slice in the microwave for 10 seconds just to warm and soften it up before eating.

Give it a try but remember to check your teeth for poppyseeds before going on any dates!

BB x

Celebration Cake Part Three: The Icing on the Cake!

Phew – the posts are coming thick and fast, but I knew I’d be leaving you all on a cliffhanger if I didn’t blog about the final result!

In the last two posts I talked about making my gran’s 80th birthday cake, and making the passion fruit curd to fill it with. In this post, I’ll show you how to (really easily) make the buttercream icing and put it all together. The only ingredients at this stage are for the icing and decoration, and there are only three of them!

INGREDIENTS: 750g icing sugar, 375g soft unsalted butter, 100g white chocolate. (‘Happy Birthday’ candles are optional)

  • Make sure the butter is soft and use a hand mixer to blend it a bit in a big bowl. You might find it easier to do this icing half at a time, as moving this much butter around is tough on the old arms!
  • Once the softened butter is mushed a bit, add the icing sugar a little at a time, using the beaters to mix it into the butter after each addition. Don’t be tempted to put it all in at once, you’ll create an icing sugar cloud, sneeze a lot and make a very big mess.
  • When all the icing sugar is mixed in, beat until completely smooth and soft.
  • That’s it! You can add a splash of vanilla essence, a hit of lemon zest or anything else that takes your fancy, but this is the basic ratio of butter/sugar for buttercream icing.

ICING THE CAKES:

  • Cut each cake horizontally through the middle (its easiest with a serrated knife) and spread a thick layer of the passion fruit curd over the bottom layer of each cake.
  • Then spread a layer of buttercream over the curd. It doesn’t matter if they mix a little bit, it’s going to be covered.
  • Put the top of the cakes back on their bases.
  • The larger cake will be your bottom layer. Its easier to pop it on your serving plate/stand before you start icing the exterior, so do that now. I also placed the bottom cake upside down, so that I had a very flat surface to place the next cake onto. It doesn’t matter if the base is a little wonky as you can hide that with icing, although it shouldn’t be too bad if you flattened the top as suggested in part one.
  • Buttercream the top of the bigger cake and then place the sandwiched smaller cake on top. Try and get it central.
  • Now buttercream the top of the smaller cake, then go round the sides of both cakes, making sure they are completely covered.
  • TIP: If the butter wasn’t quite soft enough and you’re still finding the buttercream a bit hard (this can make it tricky when doing the sides) add a tiny splash of boiling water and beat into the mixture. That will soften it nicely but will allow it to harden again when it cools.
  • Make sure you fill in any gaps between the two cakes, and any gaps at the bottom. A good idea is to use palette knife once the whole cake is covered. Dip it in hot water and then run it along the sides to create smooth edged and a smooth top.

FINAL DECORATIONS:

  • To finish it off, melt the white chocolate in the microwave, or over a pan of simmering water if you prefer. While this is melting, get a sheet of baking paper, and place on a tray.
  • Once the chocolate is melted, pour into a piping bag with a pinpoint round nozzle – the sort you’d use for writing letters.
  • Decide on a shape and then pipe outlines onto the baking paper, followed by some patterns inside the shape to connect all the edges (for stability). I went for tall triangles and filled the insides with zigzags.
  • Pop the tray into the fridge until the chocolate has set. The pieces will then come away from the paper really easily.
  • How you use them is up to you. I used my tall shapes to stand on the lip between the two cake layers, but they’d also look great forming a sort of teepee on top if you didn’t have candles.

Ta Da! The finished article. Photographed in a slight blur as I had to capture a quick snap before we lit the candles.

So there you have it. Quite simple really, but very effective. Other ideas could include using milk chocolate for the decorations as a contrast, different colours of icing for each layer or even ombre icing if you were feeling really adventurous!

If you are looking to feed a crowd this is a great cake. By the time we served it everyone (40 plus people) had eaten a lot of food, so we cut it into small squares, like you’d get at a wedding. It probably would have fed twice as many people and several people went home with a chunk! This can also be iced the day before, covered in clingfilm and left somewhere cool. So if you have a big party to plan, you can get this done ahead.

 

There will now be a short break for the baking bandit. Quite a lot to do in the next few weeks. But its my dad’s birthday at the end of the month and we’re having another party, so I’m sure there will be another cake.

Most importantly – a good wedding cake? I am just looking for something small and white to cut, and some of our friends will hopefully provide a few extra cakes so that we can feed everyone.

Sweetness and that fuzzy ‘too much sugar on my teeth’ feeling to you all,

BB x

Celebration Cake Part One: The Cake

My lovely old gran (oooh she’d hate that description) is turning 80 this weekend. We’re having a big old shin-dig in her honour, which wouldn’t be a proper party without a whole heap of food. My cousins and I have been tasked with providing dessert, and I’ll be making the birthday cake. This is a bit of an epic cake build (yes, I used the word build) so I’ll be posting it in three parts, all of which are useful separately for different things. This first part is about the actual cake.

After much debate, I decided on a Madeira cake. I wanted something with a spongey texture and a certain lightness, but I also needed something that could be made ahead, and sponge cakes don’t last well. So whilst Madeira cake isn’t quite as light, its ability to last a week or so in the fridge made the decision. Madeira cake is denser than sponge, so it also cuts better, which is especially good when you want a cake to slice into lots of small pieces without crumbling.

I decided to make both cakes needed at the same time, but I don’t recommend this unless you have very strong arms or a stand alone mixer! Its a lot of mix for one bowl.

Thats a lot of eggs! Don’t be alarmed, it makes two big cakes.

20cm Cake Ingredients: 250g butter, 250g caster sugar, 5 eggs, 185g plain flour, 60g self raising flour, 1 tbsp milk, zest of a lemon

23cm Cake Ingredients: 310g butter, 310g caster sugar, 6 eggs, 230g plain flour, 75g self raising flour, 2 tbsp milk, zest of 2 lemons.

Luscious Lemons!

  • Heat the oven to 150 degrees
  • Make sure the butter is a room temperature and beat together with the sugar.
  • Beat the eggs into the mix one at a time. I find it better to break them into a bowl first (as in the picture above) so that you don’t end up putting a bad egg in your mix.
  • Once all the eggs are in, sift in the flour and stir, but don’t beat out all the air that you’ve just put in.
  • Stir in the milk and lemon zest.
  • Prepare the tin: You need to line the sides and the base as its a relatively long bake and you don’t want it to burn or get too dark.
  • When the oven is at the right temperature, pop the bigger one in for 1 hour and 30, and then check but it will probably need about another ten minutes. The smaller cake will take about 10-15 minutes less, but again just keep an eye on them. Make sure they are cooked through, but don’t let them get too dark.
  • Once they are cooked, pop on a cooling rack, but leave in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out.

Ready to come out of the tins.

When the cakes are completely cool, you might need to give them a bit of a haircut. Mine came out having risen rather violently, and if you want to stack them, they will need flat tops.

Don’t worry if it looks a bit dramatic once you’ve trimmed it, because you’ll cover it with icing. If you don’t intend to ice it, there’s no need to chop its head off!

Off with their heads! The cake tops are off, all ready for lemon syrup.

The final stage of cake preparation is to pour a lemon syrup over the cakes. For this, mix lemon juice and sugar to taste (I like it very lemony but some prefer it sweet) and put over a low heat until the sugar is disolved.

Use a skewer and poke holes all over the cakes but don’t do too many or your cake will fall apart! sprinkle the mixture over the cakes but don’t overdo it, as you don’t want to oversaturate the cake. You want to try and do this while the cake is still warm, as the mixture will soak in better.

When the cake has cooled, wrap in cling film and then in foil. The cakes will last about ten days in the fridge.

In the next post, I’ll blog about the passion fruit curd filling…. yummy!

Bake well my friends

BB x

 

 

Sweet and Spice: Ginger Flapjacks with Salted Fudgey Icing

A few weeks ago a friend of mine called me up and asked if I fancied going to the Gallery of Modern Art here in Edinburgh. Now, anyone who knows me knows that this is code for ‘let’s go eat some cake!’. The National Galleries of Scotland do a mean scone, but on this occasion I had a ginger flapjack. It was immense (both in size and taste) and I decided that this was something worth recreating. However, the original was a bit hard, so I was after a slightly less chewy, possibly a bit more nutty, flapjack base, and a topping with a bit more of a kick to combat the sweetness of the golden syrup. Then last week a found a recipe for something that looked vaguely similar, and decided to recreate that amazing gingery-sticky-gooey moment of goodness. This is adapted from a GoodFood recipe.

The flapjack base: all the basic ingredients of a traditional flapjack, including enough butter to block all your arteries.

INGREDIENTS: 350g butter (sadly that is not a typo – quite literally not for the faint hearted), 200g light muscavado sugar, 5tbsp golden syrup, 250g rolled oats (porridge oats are fine), 140g plain flour, 50g pecans chopped into small pieces, 50g desiccated coconut, 1tsp of ground ginger.

  • Turn on the oven, set it to 180 (fan) and grease and line a tin. I used one that is about 25cm squared and the flapjacks are quite deep, so you could easily use a bigger tin and make smaller pieces.
  • The great thing about flapjacks is that they are the baking equivalent of one pot cooking! So start by putting the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan over a gentle heat. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to speed the process – you’ll just get a burnt mess.
  • Once the butter is melted give it another minute so that the sugar is totally dissolved, then add in the flour. At this point I make sure hob is on the lowest setting – you want the flour to mix in and cook a bit but you don’t want anything to burn or stick. Give it a couple of really big stirs.
  •  Mix in all the other ingredients. Turn off the heat and stir until everything is really thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Its quite runny for a flapjack mix but don’t worry – it’ll all sort itself out!
  • Pop into the oven for 35 mins. It’ll still be really wobbly when you take it out, but as it cools will set hard. Leave it in the tin.

You don’t need to wait for it to cool to ice it, so once you’ve removed the tin from the oven get going on the icing.

Fudgy-gingery-salty icing – yum!

INGREDIENTS FOR ICING: 175g butter (basically two packs of butter for the whole recipe), 200g icing sugar, 4tbsp golden syrup, ginger to taste (I used 4 heaped teaspoons but I like it quite strong), maldon salt flakes and whole pecans to decorate.

  • Put the icing sugar, butter, golden syrup and ginger in a pan and slowly melt over a low heat. If you aren’t sure how gingery you want it to be, put 3tsp of ginger in, stir it through and then taste before deciding whether or not to add more. 4tsp makes for quite a gingery kick.
  • Pour the icing over the flapjack (still in the tin) and let it all cool down together.
  • While it is still warm sprinkle over the salt flakes. Don’t overdo it but you want enough to balance out the sweetness of the icing.
  • Work out how many squares you are able to cut it into, and pop a pecan in the middle of each one. This is really sweet, so I suggest small portions. The pecans look pretty and make it easier to cut as they offer up a guide! I made 16 squares.

All iced and ready to cut into portions. The pecans are a good cutting guide for even sized pieces!

Once you have cut up your portions you can pop them in the fridge to harden up the icing, but make sure you take them out at least 15 mins before you want to eat them so that they aren’t as hard as rocks! You can also keep them in an airtight container out of the fridge and they will last quite happily for about 3-4 days.

All ready for eating! The icing will be thicker on the middle pieces as the centre of the flapjack will sink a bit as it cools. These pretty pieces will look the best presentation wise so its worth putting them at the top of the pile!

In the end, I think these were actually better than the ones in the gallery cafe as they were slightly less chewy and had a better depth of flavour. Anyone else like a bit of spice or salt with their sweet?

Happy baking my fellow bandits,

BB x

That Autumnal Feeling: Pear, Chocolate and Nut Cake

Good evening lovely readers!

Today has made me feel really ready for autumn – a long wet dog walk followed by some steaming tomato soup to warm up! This was followed by an afternoon of clearing out the baking cupboard, which turned up an abundance of nuts that needing using up. So using a recipe from the BBC GoodFood magazine, and adapting it to what was in the kitchen cupboards, here’s a nice seasonal cake that packs a punch of autumn-y flavours.

I have two things to apologise for. Firstly, although this cake is lovely and moist and will keep for a few days because of all the nuts, it does have rather a lot of ingredients though so you will need to be prepared! Secondly, I discovered Instagram this week (behind the times I know!) so the blog is getting even more retro!

Here’s what you need…..

All the things you’ll need for a nice pear cake

INGREDIENTS: 250g melted butter, 250g caster sugar, 100g self raising flour, 50g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, 1tsp baking powder, 2tsp mixed spice, 1tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 200g mixed chop nuts (I used 50g each of walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios all whizzed up in the food processor), 100g chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips, 3 large eggs, 1tsp almond extract, a tin of pears, butterscotch chips (optional).

  • Heat the oven to 160 (fan oven) and butter and line a 23cm loose based cake tin (this is really important because this is a slow bake and will burn at the edges without lining the tin).
  • Mix the sugar, flours, ground almonds, baking powder and spices in a bowl, then add in most of the nuts (leave a few tablespoons aside for topping the cake later) and the chopped chocolate.
  • In another bowl, whisk the eggs, almond extract and melted butter until it thickens and foams.

 

Wet and dry ingredients in two bowls – ready for some mixing!

  • Tip the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together. At this point I got a bit excited about all the things that could go into this cake and threw in a handful of butterscotch chips, but these are an added extra only and not vital.
  • Chop the pears into chunks and fold through the cake mixture. You can use fresh pears if you want, but the ones in the tin are very soft and add a good moist texture to the cake. So if you are going to use fresh pears, make sure they are really ripe.

Ready to bake!

  • Pop the mixture into a tin and bake for 45 minutes. Then cover the tin with tinfoil and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Take out the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a rack.

It should look golden but not too coloured….

Lovely and golden – cooled and ready for icing!

Once its cooled, you’re ready for icing.

INGREDIENTS: You’ll need 200g chocolate (I used 150g milk and 50g dark), a 300ml pot of sour cream and the leftover nuts.

  • Melt the chocolate slowly – I did it in bursts in the microwave but you can do it in a bowl over a pan of water if you prefer.
  • Mix the sour cream into the chocolate and beat until smooth.
  • Then pop the bowl of icing into the fridge until it thickens up enough to spread without flying everywhere. I was too impatient so my icing was a little runny. You could even leave it in the fridge overnight and spread it the next day.
  • Once iced, just sprinkle with the remaining nuts, et voila!

The finished product! Rich and full of flavour.

As well as being a great teatime treat, this would make a great dessert. In fact, that’s what we had for pudding this evening – still warm with runny icing and a blob of natural yoghurt….

A slice of cake heaven…

So rather than being sad at the passing of summer (did it even make an appearance?!), let us celebrate the start of autumn!

Happy baking my friends,

BB x

Celebrating life with lemons: iced lemon cake

Afternoon all!

Today I am trying to embrace our great British weather and I’m already on my second set of clothes for the day, having taken the dog out in torrential rain earlier! July? Summer?! I laugh in the face of summer…. To combat that feeling, here’s a little injection of summer in cake form.

Yesterday I had the delight of attending a lovely little celebration for two very special ladies. Donna and Kaz were celebrating 10 years of making beautiful jewellery at their Edinburgh studios and what celebration, I ask you, is complete without a cake?!!? Oh, and maybe some wine…. but they had that bit covered.

So I took a little time out on Friday afternoon to make a lovely layered lemon cake. Now I may have had a slight ulterior motive for making them this cake. As well as celebrating their success, I was keen to try out this recipe as a possibility for a lemon cake for our wedding next year. I am liking the idea more and more of a proper cake table, with a variety of smaller cakes at the wedding, so I thought I’d test this one out on some willing guinea pigs!

This recipe was adapted from the excellent Primrose Hill Bakery’s ‘Cupcake’ book.

Cake ingredients: 225g caster sugar, 225g self raising flour (sifted), 225g butter (room temp), 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 25g cornflour, 4 large eggs, zest of 2 large lemons and juice of 3 large lemons.

  • Preheat oven to 170 (fan oven) and prepare 2x 20cm round cake tins. I grease and line the sides and base so that the cakes come out with a smooth finish. This is important for presentation because the sides aren’t covered in icing.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy in one bowl, and mix the dry ingredients in another bowl.
  • Add the eggs one at a time to the butter/sugar mix and beat between each addition. Then add the floury mix a bit at a time, mixing after each addition. The mix will seem quite stiff but add the lemon juice and lemon zest and it will be come a bit more runny. Its not a particularly runny cake mix though, so don’t worry.
  • Divide between the two tins and then pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Poke a  cake with a skewer to check they’re done after this time. The cakes will be pale gold but not particularly dark.

Pop the cakes on a rack, still in their tins, for about 10 minutes and then take them out the tins and peel of the paper. You should have two lovely smooth-edged cakes. Now leave them to cool. Don’t be tempted to ice a warm cake – it’ll go horribly wrong!

Icing ingredients: 120g butter (room temp), juice of 1-2 lemons (depends how lemony you like it. About 3 tablespoons works well), the zest of those lemons and 500g sifted icing sugar.

  • When the cakes are cool, place the one you decide to be the base on your serving plate. You can turn the cake over so that you have a flat layer to work on. My cake had risen quite dramatically in the middle, so I cut the top off to make it flatter – it just depends how professional you want it to look.
  • To make the icing, put the butter, lemon juice, zest and half the icing sugar into a bowl and beat. I do this by hand with a spoon to stop the icing sugar flying everywhere, but you can use a mixer or even the food processor. Then slowly add the rest of the icing sugar until its all combined. If you think the mixture still looks a bit stiff add a bit of water or some more lemon juice, but remember you want a thick mix that won’t run.
  • I spread a layer of lemon curd over the first cake, to add another level of lemony-ness and then followed with a layer of icing – about 1/3 to 1/2 of what’s in the bowl.
  • Plop the second cake on top – again you can invert it to get a flat top on your cake, but thats just about preference. Personally, I like the top a little rounded.
  • Spread the rest of the icing over the top of the second cake. Use a palette knife moving in the same direction all the time to create a swirl in the middle of the cake.
  • You can leave it like that, or finish it off with some nice sugared lemon slices.

I forgot to take a photo until I had already put the cake in the box to take with my to the gallery, so this is what it looked like from above:

View from above!

On the night, I didn’t have any (I had eaten the bits I’d had to cut off earlier in the afternoon) but several people at the event commented how nice it was, so hopefully we have a winner! Next time, when I have a little more time to plan, I may make some nice sugared daisies to decorate, just for that real celebration feel.

Have a good weekend everyone – don’t forget your wellies!

BBx

Something for all the senses: ginger cake with fudge icing

The proof of the pudding (or cake) is in the eating. That said, sometimes its good to get the other senses involved. Its been a right old miserable weekend and when its wet and cold, its nice to fill the house with the nice warming smell of baking, followed by the all important eating!

So today I made a ginger cake. I’ve made it before, its an excellent cake, which I previously made without icing. But I also have a recipe for ginger cupcakes with fudge icing so I thought I’d try a bit of a recipe combo and see what happened. The verdict? Well, according to my chief taster (Mr. Bandit) it was ‘mmmmmmmm nomnomnommmmm’. I think that’s a thumbs up. Personally, I think its rather nice without any icing too, and its so moist and sticky that it doesn’t need any icing. But then again, when is icing really a necessity? Either way its very yummy!

The best thing about this cake (other than the taste) is the amazing smell as its cooking; a heady mix of ginger, golden syrup and cinnamon. Eat it still warm and a little squidgy and it’s a delight for the fingers and the taste buds. And before I get all Nigella on you, I’ll pass on the recipe…..

The most critical part of this cake is the tin preparation. The cake is sticky and fragile, so make sure you grease and line the tin (base and sides). I ran out of baking paper and only lined the base so my cake sides didn’t come out as smooth as I would have liked. If you’re icing it, its not such a big deal but if you want to serve it plain, its worth making the effort to keep it looking nice.

  • heat the oven to 150c (fan oven). Grease and line your tin/s – I make two 20cm cakes and freeze one but you can make one bigger cake (26cm) and just adjust the cooking time.
  • Then melt a 250g block of margarine, 50g of butter and 400g of golden syrup in a pan on a low heat. You don’t want it to cook, just melt all together. TOP TIP: Brush some oil round the bowl and spoon you use for measuring the golden syrup. The syrup will then run off the spoon/out the bowl easily without the mad sticky mess that usually comes with golden syrup. Also, you can make this entirely with margarine, in fact the original recipe I used didn’t include any butter, but I like it. Don’t try and use all butter though, it’ll be far too rich. Don’t worry, the cake doesn’t come out tasting margarine-y.
  • Use a food mixer and throw into it/a bowl 130g plain flour, 225g self raising flour, 110g of light brown sugar (caster sugar would work fine and dark muscavado sugar would make it a darker and richer cake) a pinch of salt and a big teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger. Give it all a mix!
  • Beat an egg and then throw that into the mix and give it another whizz round in the mixer.
  • With the mixer running, poor in the melted marg/butter/syrup mixture and keep whizzing!
  • Poor 175ml of warm water over 1 and a half teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and then poor that into the mixer as well.
  • When everything is thoroughly mixed poor it into the tin/tins. Don’t worry about the consistency – its a very runny mix!

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While its cooking it looks a bit like an aero as the light mixture cooks in all those lovely air bubbles. This is after about 20 minutes. The smell is amazing.

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  • If you’re cooking two 20cm cakes cook them at 150c for 50 minutes and then poke them with a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, they’re done! Otherwise give it another 5-10 minutes and then check again. The very centre of the cake will still look a bit undercooked and will be very springy, but it hardens as it cools. If you’re cooking one big cake, give it an hour and then check. The cake goes a very dark brown and the top will be very sticky.
  • When they’re done, leave in the tin/s on a rack for 10 mins. I would suggest that, unless you’re going to freeze the cake, keep it/them on the base of the tin. Its a fragile cake and getting it off the base is tricky. I suggest getting a small upturned bowl on the worktop, place the cake tin on top and then push the sides of the tin down, rather than trying to push the cake up. If you don’t fancy icing the cake, its rather nice still a bit warm, maybe with some ice-cream. Otherwise, leave it to cool ready for icing.

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  • If you are very greedy (and I am very greedy so I can attest to the fact that there is nothing wrong with that!) then here’s a recipe for a fudge icing. This is very sweet, so I haven’t made too much. The following ingredients are for icing one 20cm cake. Just double it for a bigger cake.
  • Melt 25g butter and 50g light brown sugar in a pan. Unlike with the cake, you do want this to boil. When its boiling add 2 generous tablespoons of single cream and turn it down to a simmer. Give it the occasional stir but let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and beat in 100g of sifted icing sugar until smooth.
  • Now, the important thing about this icing is speed. As soon as its make you need to get it on the cake. It starts setting the minute it leaves the warm pan. I suggest taking a big spoon and spreading it a dollop at a time round the cake, rather than pouring it all on the cake at once, because you’ll just get an icing mountain in the middle of the cake.
  • Before it goes completely hard you can sprinkle on some chopped nuts (I used walnuts – I’m still trying to get shot of my passover stash of nuts) or chopped up stem ginger to cut the sweetness of the icing and add another gingery hit.

This recipe is based on one I found in Good Food magazine, which apparently is a wartime cake – hence the use of margarine rather than butter.

Finally, eat, smell, enjoy.

Happy sunday baking one and all.

BB x