It was time to make a cake for my wonderful mother for Mothering Sunday. The question was, what cake to make? Simnel cake is traditional for this Christian festival which falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent. It was a day’s reprieve from the Lenten fast and domestic servants were given the day off to visit their mother church. This meant being able to spend time with their families and specifically their mothers. These days Simnel cake is more closely associated with Easter, but the old tradition of baking a cake and picking flowers for our mothers lives on.
With spring in the air, a cake with a floral theme seemed appropriate. I happened to have some lavender chocolate in the house and although lavender isn’t exactly spring like, it is floral. So a chocolate lavender cake it was going to be. Excitingly, it is the season for goose eggs and I had bought one especially to make my Mother’s Day cake. Goose eggs have a very short season, so I pounce upon them with glee whenever I see them in the spring. They are very large and have a whopping yolk, so are excellent for baking – they roughly equate to three large hens eggs. I scattered the cake with edible red dust, pink hearts and lavender flowers. Sadly most of the flowers all blew off in the wind when I took the cake outside to photograph it, but I reckon the hearts say it all anyway.
I made the cake yesterday and am off to deliver it later this afternoon along with a bunch of primroses and a card.
Update 31 March
The cake was sensational. I was really pleased with it and more to the point so was my mother. The lavender flavour was good without being overpowering and the cake was beautifully light.
I am sending this over to Emily’s #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too.
- 1 tbsp lavender flowers
- 125ml hot water
- 150g unsalted butter
- 175g sugar (half caster, half dark muscovado)
- a pinch sea or rock salt
- 40g cocoa powder
- 175g flour (half wholemeal, half white)
- 1 scant teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 85g ground almonds
- 1 heaped tbsp Greek yogurt
- 80g dark lavender chocolate (70%)
- 70g unsalted butter
- 1 heaped tsp Cornish honey
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 1 goose egg (or 3 large eggs)
Yield: 1 8″ cake
My mother asked me back in November (oh dear where does the time go?) if I would make a cake for her. She volunteers at her village community centre and wanted the cake as a leaving and thank you present for her boss. I knew it was time to make Ruth Clemens’ (aka The Pink Whisk) Tiramisu Cake. This is not a natural choice for me as I am in a small minority of non-coffee lovers. However, I do know it is considered to be one of the most popular flavours ever and I have supporting evidence. When The KitchenMaid chose coffee as the We Should Cocoa special ingredient, we had a record number of entries and Lucy had to do the round-up in two parts. Tiramisu, everyone assures me, is a delicious dessert, so transformed into cake form, how could it fail to please? That was my reasoning anyway.
Ruth is one of those bakers whose recipes I trust. I’ve made a number of her bakes and not once has she let me down. However, as I am completely incapable of following a recipe, I did make a few adaptations. As it was meant to be tiramisu, I used cream cheese in the icing. I wanted to use the classic mascarpone, but when I went down to our local co-op, I found it had stopped selling it, which was mighty annoying. I had to make do with Philadelphia instead. I didn’t cover the cake with ganache either as I wanted the contrast between the chocolate and cream colours to stand out. I reduced the amount of icing sugar in the icing and also used slightly less sugar in the cake.
This is how I made:
- Brewed a strong batch of filter coffee and left to cool.
- Creamed 165g unsalted butter with 250g soft brown sugar and 70g dark brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs, one at a time.
- Sifted in 260g flour (100g wholemeal, 100g white, 60g self-raising white), 70g cocoa and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Stirred this in gently, alternating with 220 ml of sour milk.
- Added 4 tbsp of the cooled coffee and stirred until just incorporated.
- Divided the mixture between 2 x 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes until the cakes were well risen and an inserted skewer came out clean.
- Left to cool for ten minutes, then turned out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Creamed 60g unsalted butter with a couple of large spoonfuls from 250g icing sugar.
- Beat in 100g cream cheese, then slowly added the rest of the icing sugar.
- Added 1 tbsp Marsala and 3 tbsp strong coffee. Beat until all smooth and a good spreading consistency achieved.
- Spread one cake with half the mixture, placed the other cake on top and topped with the remaining icing.
- Sprinkled with whatever chocolate bits I could lay my hands on.
I wasn’t expecting it to turn out to be such a stonker of a cake, but petite it was certainly not. CT was rather upset to find his tasting services were not required; unlike me, he enjoys coffee flavoured cakes. Nevertheless, the feedback I received via my mother was very positive and was most gratifyingly demonstrated by an empty plate.
I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays
I’m also entering this into Emily’s Recipe of the Week over at A Mummy Too.
Time to visit the land of the Hampshire Hogs. It was my mother in law’s 80th Birthday and a cake was called for. She has quite a sweet tooth and is not a fan of dark chocolate so when I saw a recipe for orange poppy seed cupcakes in the Australian book High Tea; recipes with a sense of occasion, I decided to adapt this into cake form with the addition of white chocolate, both in the cake batter and the buttercream.
When it came to decorating, I wanted something simple with the numbers 8 and 0 standing out boldly. CT cut some templates for me out of greaseproof paper with the idea of laying them over the cake and scattering bling over the rest. A good idea, but sadly, this didn’t have quite the desired effect and the figures were a little hard to decipher. One wag likened it to a face with a moustache – it wasn’t meant to be an advertisement for Pr**gles, you know, but I was hoping that just like the tubular snacks, once this was started, we’d be unable to stop.
This is how I made:
Orange, Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Cake
- Measured 150ml sour milk into a jug and added 40g poppy seeds. Stirred and left for a while.
- Melted 40g vanillary white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 170g caster sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the grated zest of an organic orange.
- Beat in the white chocolate.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs, one by one.
- Sifted in 190g self-raising flour and stirred this in as gently as possible.
- Gently stirred in the milk and poppy seeds until just incorporated.
- Divided the batter between two 20 cm silicone moulds and baked at 180°C for 25 minutes when the cakes were well risen and a cake tester came out clean.
- Melted 60g white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter together with 300g icing sugar and the grated zest of an organic orange.
- Beat in 1 tbsp orange liqueur.
- Beat in the white chocolate.
- Sandwiched the cakes together with a good thick layer, then spread the rest over the top and sides.
O is for Orange in this month’s AlphaBakes, so a virtual slice of this orange, poppy seed and white chocolate cake is being sent over to Caroline Makes and The More Than Occasional Baker c/o CT’s mum.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for my Birthday|
It’s National Chocolate Week, although every week is chocolate week in this household. Nevertheless, this seems a good time to post a showstopper chocolate cake.
This chocolate red wine cake was one of the first recipes I made from Charlotte Pike’s Easy Baking in her Hungry Student series of cookbooks. I made it back in July as my birthday offering to my work colleagues. The cake is a plain unadorned one, although I can assure you that the taste is by no means plain. However, as it was a celebratory cake, I created a chocolate red wine icing to top it and decorated it using chocolate fingers. Sadly, like the chocolate amnesia cake, I forgot to write down exactly what I did and I can no longer remember.
However, recently, I had the perfect opportunity to make one again and remind myself just how good it was. I was set a challenge of creating a Home Bargains Showstopper and was sent a selection of goodies to help me on my way. I was thrilled when a box arrived in the post packed full of all sorts of baking paraphernalia; it reminded me of a Christmas stocking as I excitedly pulled out one thing after another. The theme was definitely pink and what girl doesn’t like pink? There was a three layer pink cardboard cake stand, a pink heat mat, pink cupcake cases, pink hearts and pink marshmallows. Luckily, there was a fair amount of red in it too and red is the colour of my kitchen. I immediately fell in love with the red strawberry apron and oven glove and was pleased with the two red silicone cake moulds and cookie cutters. And it was indeed a home bargain as the whole lot would have cost less than £14. Products are available online or at 300 Home Bargain stores across the UK.
- Strawberry single oven glove – £1.49
- Top Cake love hearts – 79p
- Red strawberry apron £1.99
- Red cookie cutters – 99p
- 75 cupcake cases – 79p
- Red silicone cake mould (8″) – £1.99
- Vintage Dream cupcake cases and picks – 99p
- Stainless steel palette knife – 99p
- Silicone trivet – 79p
- Pink spotty cake stand – 99p
- Measuring spoons – 59p
- Mini marshmallows – 59p
Then along came the first Cornish Clandestine Cake Club event I’ve been able to attend in a very long time and the theme was vintage. Held at a Cornish winery, it was more of a “vin” theme than a retro recipe one, but it was left up to us to choose. The chocolate red wine cake was a must. This time I made use of some dark cranberry chocolate that was in need of using and added it along with some cranberries soaked in red wine. I donned my lovely new apron, got out the new oven glove and cake decorations, washed the cake moulds and palette knife and set to, making up a filling and topping recipe once again. This time I wrote it down.
This is how I made:
Chocolate and Cranberry Red Wine Cake
- Poured 125ml red wine into a jug.
- Added 50g dried cranberries and left to soak whilst getting on with everything else.
- Melted 125g dark chocolate (half Dr Oetker 72% and half cranberry 52%) in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter with 200g caster sugar and 50g molasses sugar until pale in colour and airy.
- Beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Beat in 4 eggs, one by one, adding a little of the flour mixture towards the end.
- Sifted in 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 rounded tsp baking powder, 4 rounded tsp cocoa,1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt and stirred gently.
- Stirred in the wine and cranberries a little at a time.
- Stirred in the chocolate until just incorporated.
- Divided the mixture between two 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes when the cakes were well risen and a tester inserted in the middle came out clean.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for CCC|
- Creamed 120g unsalted butter with 250g sifted icing sugar.
- Sifted in 40g of cocoa and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
- Stirred in 75 ml red wine and beat vigourously until light and airy.
- Sandwiched the cakes with half of the filling and slathered the other half on top.
- Decorated with pink hearts and Dr Oetker pink sugar and shimmer balls.
The winery, Knightor, near St Austell and the Eden Project is housed in an old stone barn that has been spectacularly renovated. As ever, there were some fabulous cakes made by the indefatigable home bakers of Cornwall. Thanks to our mistress of ceremonies, Ellie, for organising another splendid CCC.
|Clever design – hic!|
|Black Forest Gateau made by Nat of HungryHinny|
|Boozy Coffee and Walnut Cake|
|Tuck in if you dare|
|Sadly not the plate I took home|
|Hearts for Love|
The cake was a commission and a heart shape was chosen. As it was meant for a tea time treat, I was keen to use one of these Afternoon Tea Chocolates.
|Stars for Celebrataion|
To ensure I got to try some, I took the precaution of baking a second small rectangular one for us. This one was to celebrate We Should Cocoa’s third birthday. The cakes were of the sandwich variety and I filled and covered them with some sort of ganache.
The cake itself was moist and chocolatey, but the whipped ganache filling and covering was sublime. I do remember it had lots of chocolate in it and I beat it for ages so it was rich, but light and airy, almost mousse like.
This month for Random Recipes we were asked to take 10 seconds to grab one book and run. Dom reckoned with no time to think, we would automatically go for our most useful book. My go to baking book is Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which coincidentally is the book that featured in last month’s Random Recipes. If I need a reminder on how to make something or need a reliable recipe, then this is the first book I turn to. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best or even most comprehensive baking book I own, although I suspect it probably is, but I’ve had the book for many many years and it is like an old familiar.
The next task was to randomly pick a recipe. When I asked CT to pick a number, he obligingly came up with no. 15 which was Nigella’s Victoria Sponge. I have made a Victoria innumerable times, but I have never used Nigella’s recipe before. She suggests substituting some of the flour for cornflour. I’m always interested in trying different methods and ingredients, so I was keen to see what, if any, difference this made. On the three page spread that this classic took up, chocolate was not even mentioned once – harrumph! With a sponge, this is really not a problem as it can generally be filled with whatever you like. I decided I would fill it with the fig and pomegranate jam I made last year and a chocolate buttercream – chocolate and figs are a good combination I reckon.
This is how I made:
Fig and Chocolate Victoria Sandwich
- Creamed 225g unsalted butter with 225g vanilla sugar (golden caster) until pale and airy.
- Beat in 1 tsp chocolate extract.
- Beat in 4 eggs (2 medium hens eggs and 2 large duck eggs).
- Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal spelt and half white), 25g cornflour and 1½ tsp baking powder. Stirred in as gently as possible.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp sour milk (ordinary milk is fine, but sour helps with the rise).
- Divided mixture between two 21 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 25 minutes until the cakes were risen, golden and firm to the touch.
- Turned first cake out of the mould to cool. And this is where disaster struck. I normally leave the cakes to cool in the moulds for ten minutes before turning out, but in my eagerness I didn’t listen to the warning bells in my head. Large chunks stuck to the bottom of the mould and my first cake was a mess. I dutifully left the second one in it’s mould for 15 minutes before turning out and it was absolutely fine.
- Melted 15g of dark chocolate (72%) in a bowl over a pan of hot water.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 100g golden icing sugar until pale and fully incorporated.
- Beat in the chocolate.
- Beat in 1 tbsp double cream.
- Placed all the pieces from the broken cake together to form a round as best I could.
- Covered this with the contents from a small jar of fig and pomegranate jam.
- Spread the buttercream over the bottom of the intact cake and placed this, bottom side up on top of the broken one.
- Dusted the top with caster sugar, then immediately cut a slice to see a) if it would hold together and b) how it tasted.
I am eating that slice now and can attest that despite its rather crumpled look, the cake held together and tastes wonderful. The jam and buttercream are a good combination, but I actually think the jam with whipped cream would have been a better one – less sweet and would have allowed the jam to really shine. I’m not sure I really noticed any difference having used cornflour but it wasn’t a double blind trial.
As soon as I heard that Victoria had chosen mint as this month’s We Should Cocoa ingredient, I knew immediately I wanted to use fresh mint. We have an abundance of both spearmint and peppermint growing down at the plot and it seemed criminal not to use some of it for this challenge. That’s as far as I got for a while, but then along came the Cornish strawberries. Warmed by the sun (we did get a few days of it), I couldn’t resist the scent of an enticing tray of them as I passed by our local greengrocers – the decision to incorporate strawberries marinaded in mint syrup was made. The next leap was simple, Kate had set layer cakes as this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, so that is what I planned to do. The last piece of the jigsaw came from Janine who chose cocktails for her Baking with Spirit challenge. Woohoo, last year I came up with the cocktail Chocadoodledoo, using vodka, chocolate, mint and cream, so all I had to do was use some of my mint schnapps and add cream. So, maybe the strawberries didn’t quite fit in, but it is June for goodness sake and it’s meant to be summer. I used Pam Corbin’s recipe in Cakes for the Genoese but used duck eggs and buckwheat flour to make it gluten free.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Genoese with Minted Strawberry Cream
- Heated 100g golden caster sugar with 100 ml water in a pan and simmered for a few minutes. Added a handful of spearmint leaves, covered the pan and simmered for a further 5 minutes. Turned off the heat and left to infuse for an hour.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp homemade mint schnapps.
- Melted 75g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat.
- Using electric beaters, beat 125g of golden caster sugar and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt with 4 duck eggs for about 10 minutes on high speed, when the mixture was pale, thick and had quadrupled in volume.
- Sifted in 100g of buckwheat flour with 25g cocoa powder in two batches. Folded each batch into the eggs as gently as possible.
- Poured the cooled butter down the side of the bowl and folded in – again as gently as possible.
- Divided between two 8 inch cake moulds and baked at 180C for 22 minutes when the tops were firm and a cake tester came out clean.
- Roughly chopped a punnet of Cornish Strawberries and poured over two tbsp of the mint syrup. Stirred and left to infuse.
- As soon as the cakes came out of the oven poured the remaining syrup over the tops, then left for 15 minutes.
- Turned out onto a wire rack and left to cool completely.
- Whisked 150 ml whipping cream until peaks formed.
- Spooned the strawberries and juice over one cake, then covered with the cream.
- Placed the remaining cake on top and dusted with icing sugar.
The cake was as light as a feather and disappeared rather too quickly. The mint gave a subtle cooling quality which was refreshing and the slight alcoholic kick added a frisson of sophistication. The strawberries and cream did exactly what was required of them. The rain may have poured down, but it felt like summer in our house as we gorged on this delicious minted strawberry and cream chocolate cake.
I’m also entering this to Karen’s Cooking with Herbs as both the cake and strawberries are infused with fresh mint.
Whilst I’m at it, I may as well enter it into Ren’s Simple and in Season as it features both mint and strawberries.
And of course I mustn’t forget Made with Love Mondays on Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/Luv.
And finally, I think, I’m linking this up to Recipe of the Week with Emily of A Mummy Too. It does what it says on the tin!
This month’s We Should Cocoa is being hosted by Shaheen (see my post on Hunky Dorys) and seeing as she is also known as MangoCheeks, it came as no surprise that she chose mango as the special ingredient. I recently made a mango and chocolate combination so I know the two flavours go well together – Mexican chocolate pudding with chilli lime mango slices. The mango mendiants I once made were also very successful.