I was on leave from work last week, so I was able to attend my 3rd Clandestine Cake Club (CCC) meeting in Cornwall. This time it was in our lovely county city of Truro and in a newly opened cafe I’ve eyed up a couple of times, but not actually ventured into. Grounded specialises in coffee but also does some delicious sounding sandwiches to eat in or take away. Homemade cakes are also on offer.
For Mother’s Day this year, I decided to make some cake truffles. I had some left over lemon & poppy seed cake from the book swap event which, I thought, mixed with orange, would make some nice tangy St Clements Truffles.
This is what I did:
- Creamed 1/2 oz unsalted butter with 1 oz icing sugar until very pale.
- Crumbled in a square of lemon & poppy seed cake.
- Beat this together until all incorporated and smooth.
- Added a couple of teaspoons of orange liqueur & beat some more.
- Formed into small balls and placed in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
- Melted 60g dark chocolate (Green&Black’s 72% cook’s chocolate).
- Dipped the cake balls into the chocolate and placed on some greasproof paper to set.
- Almost immediately, placed a sugar flour on top of each before the chocolate set.
- Placed in a pretty box and tied a ribbon around.
This luscious simnel cake is a light fruit cake laden with homemade marzipan. As tradition dictates, it has a surprise squidgy layer of marzipan in the middle and a layer on top. It’s then decorated with eleven large balls of the stuff. Less traditionally, the cake contains pieces of chocolate. Scrumptious.
Having finally got around to digging up our parsnips, we needed to start using them fast – you can see by the photograph below how huge they were, but also somewhat manky. It seemed to me that parsnips would pair well with nuts as they have their own rather nutty quality, so I wanted to use one of the nut oils that I’d recently been given. I’d fancied making a parsnip cake for years and finally I got around to it. I had a trawl through my various cook books and surprisingly enough, I found quite a few recipes. I didn’t, however, find anything that seemed right to go with chocolate, so I got my thinking cap on and came up with my own parsnip cake recipe.
This is what I did:
- Spent ages cleaning parsnips and chopping out the bad bits!
- Grated 200g of clean parsnips.
- Chopped 100g milk chocolate (G&B 35%)
- Beat 150g cardamom sugar (caster) with 3 eggs until thick and pale.
- Added a pinch of salt and 125ml walnut oil and beat some more.
- Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white), 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda.
- Folded this in together with the parsnips.
- Gently stirred in the chocolate bits.
- Scraped into a 23cm round cake mould (in retrospect should have used my 22cm one, which would have given a deeper cake).
- Baked at 180C for 36 minutes.
- Spooned 60g cardamom (caster) sugar into a jug.
- Added 3 tbsp orange liqueur.
- Stirred and poured over the hot cake.
- Left in the mould to cool completely.
The cake rose well and had a very light but moist texture. I was surprised to find I couldn’t detect the parsnip at all, either by taste or by eye. I can see why this was a good way of bulking out expensive cake ingredients in the past. The cake had a lovely nutty flavour to it, but not distinctively and definitively of walnut; the parsnips no doubt played their part. The chocolate worked well as did the orange sugar topping which was delicious, though had a certain heady alcoholic quality to it. All in all, this was not bad for a first attempt.
If truth be told, I prefer my cakes to be a bit more substantial and I’m not a huge fan of using only oil in a cake. Next time, I think I’d use half butter and half oil. That way, I’d hope to get a better texture but keep the lovely nutty flavour. However, if dairy is an issue, these nut oils make for a good substitute and of course the milk chocolate can be changed to dark or, dare I suggest it, left out all together!
I am submitting this to Ren’s lovely Simple and in Season event found at Fabulicious Food.
Update 5 March 2012 – Charlotte of Go Free Foods adapted this quite significantly and came up with a pumpkin orange & cardamom cake which looks gorgeous.
Since I started this blog, my friends seem to have had a lot of “significant” birthdays. Is this just a weird coincidence or is it because I’m more aware of these things now I’m doing my blog and always seem to have cakes on the brain – rhetorical question! Last year we went to a 30th, a 40th, a 50th, a 60th and a 70th birthday party – I thought that was rather unusual. A couple of weeks ago, we were off to the 2nd 60th birthday party this year. Part of the celebrations included painting a mural on a barn wall – what a lovely idea! Unfortunately, the rather wet weather we experienced prevented this happening. I suspected the planned bbq wouldn’t be going ahead either and to be honest it wasn’t a rip roaring success. Luckily there was still plenty of delicious food to be had in the house. So, with some rhubarb to use up, another rhubarb and chocolate cake is what I made. This time my inspiration came from the orange and strawberry cake that I made last year.
- Melted 100g dark orange spicy chocolate.
- Creamed 175g unsalted butter with 200g dark brown sugar.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs, the chocolate and the grated zest of one orange.
- Sifted in 225g flour (100g wholemeal, 100g white 25g quinoa), 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda, 1 tbsp cocoa and a pinch of salt.
- Mixed together along with 50g water and 100g Greek yogurt.
- Divided mixture between 2 x 21 cm sandwich thingies and baked at 180C for 30 mins.
- Stewed 700g of cleaned and chopped rhubarb with 2 tbsp of water until most of the water had evaporated and the mixture was thickish. Left to cool.
- Added 1 tbsp orange liqueur.
- Whipped 250ml double cream into peaks, then folded into rhubarb mixture.
- Sandwiched the cakes with the cream (I did have a substantial amount left over which we had over the following couple of days with strawberries – yum), then dusted the top of the cake with icing sugar.
Goodness, I have got my first commission! My cupcake adventure around town during National Chocolate Week created a few waves and this was one of them – to make an enlarged version of one of my cardamom and orange cupcakes for a birthday. This is exciting but also rather scary and not the same as making a cake for a friend at all – it could all go horribly wrong and then what?
This is what I ended up doing:
- Remembered to get butter (200g unsalted) out of fridge early and put it over the heater to warm.
- Ground up seeds from 17 cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar.
- Infused pods in 4 fl oz hot water.
- Creamed softened butter with 200g of soft brown sugar, grated rind from 2 oranges, 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt and the ground cardamom until pale and fluffy. Then creamed it some more.
- Beat in 4 large eggs (from customers own smallholding) alternately with some of the flour (which I’m just about to get to).
- Sifted in 250g flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white spelt), 2 level tsp baking powder, 1 level tsp bicarb of soda and 50g cocoa.
- Stirred in water (with pods sieved out) whilst still warm.
- Mixed in 6 fl oz sour cream.
- Divided mixture between 2 22cm silicone cake pans and baked at 180C for 25 mins.
- Melted 200g 35% milk chocolate & left to cool slightly.
- Creamed further 100g unsalted butter with 100g icing sugar.
- Mixed in chocolate together with 2 tbsp orange liqueur.
- Used half of the mixture to sandwich the cold cakes together, then spread remainder over the top.
- Used minstrels to decorate.
Sadly, neither myself nor my chief chocolate taster got to taste this one, so I’ll just have to assume it was completely delicious!
Update December 2009
Hooray, the cake was indeed delicious, or that’s what the recipient told me anyway. She was delighted and the orange and cardamom birthday cake was just what she’d been hoping for.
You know how well orange and chocolate pair up? Well I can tell you that adding cardamom makes for an even better flavour combination. These cardamom & orange milk chocolate cupcakes are quite sensational. The sponge is lightly flavoured with chocolate and cardamom and has a good hit of orange. But the best bit is the milk chocolate icing on the cake. Literally!
I had some strawberries and I had a birthday cake to make, so following the path of least resistance, I combined the two. Couldn’t easily find a chocolate cake recipe using strawberries, so I made this one up.
- Melted 100g dark chocolate flavoured with orange and spices (I used Co-op’s Fairtrade, but I expect Maya Gold would work really well).
- Creamed 200g butter with 200g light muscovado sugar.
- Mixed in chocolate and 3 duck eggs
- Stirred in 200g flour (1/2 wholemeal & 1/2 white spelt) and 1 tsp baking powder
- Stirred in 3 tbsp milk
- Divided mixture into 2 23cm cake thingies (smaller ones would have been better, but I only have a single one at 21 cm) and baked for 25 mins at 180°C (gas 4).
- Washed a punnet of strawberries and left to drain.
- Selected 8 of the best looking strawberries and sliced the remainder into a bowl.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp orange liqueur and a sprinkling of caster sugar.
- Whipped 200ml double cream & combined with strawberries.
- Used this to sandwich the two cakes together, then sifted some icing sugar over the top of the cake and decorated with the selected strawberries cut into halves.