Category Archives: cakes

Chocolate & Amaretti Cake. Dairy, Wheat & Gluten Free!

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A dense chocolate cake, filled with amaretti biscuits and lots and lots of chocolate! This is a perfect dessert cake for a special occasion; rich, decadent, and chocolatey in every mouthful!

This dessert was stumbled upon by accident, and I’m so glad I did! In search of something to give a chocolate fix, I came across this recipe on the Food Network. Full of ground almonds, amaretti biscuits and orange zest it just sounded too good not to try. I’m now a real convert to using chocolate and almond as a combination ever since these delicious Raspberry & Amaretti Brownies, and it never disappoints.

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Not only do the ground almonds and amaretti biscuits provide a lot of flavour, they also replace any flour you would normally need in a cake. That means not only is this cake dairy free, it is also gluten and wheat free too! You really wouldn’t know it though – the cake slices beautifully and has a dense cake-like texture.

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Now although this is a cake, and you could, of course, eat it at tea time – I think this cake really deserves to be eaten as a dessert. As rich and decadent as it is, it just cries out for a light drizzle of chocolate sauce on top, and is delightful with a small scoop of ice cream. It’s not heavy as such, but a small slice will go a long way after a big meal!

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I’m making this cake to take to my brother’s house for Christmas as the chocolate dessert – so one of the absolute best things about it is that it genuinely tastes better a day or two after baking. The amaretti flavour seemed to come out a lot more, and you could taste more of the orange zest. I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a repertoire of recipes from the quick and instant to the make in advance; and this recipe would fit that second category perfectly.

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As a side note, if you’re making this for an adults only group, I would highly recommend adding a small amount of Disaronno. The amaretti-flavoured liqueur gives a slight alcoholic heat to the chocolate sauce, and really helps the almond flavours stand out. Trust me – once you’ve tried this sauce, you’ll start to think of the many other things it would go with….

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Lemon Layer Cake

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Simple, luscious Lemon Cake – a simple sponge recipe perfect for a laid back treat, or decorated for an occasion. Drizzled with lemon juice, the sponges are extra moist, which means it’s perfect to make a day or two in advance!

Unlike a lot of my recipe posts which are inspired by whatever I fancy baking at the time, this one came about for a very specific reason. As I mentioned, my boyfriend and I have just come back from an amazing holiday in Australia, but what I didn’t tell you at the time was that we got engaged!

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Since we’ve been back, life’s been even more busy and hectic than before (although certainly in a good way!) and so it was an absolute relief for us to be invited away for the weekend by a friend. I thought a celebration cake was more than appropriate to make – and using one of my favourite flavours, this luscious Lemon Layer cake came about.

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This cake uses my usual sponge recipe but with a real punch of lemon in the sponge and the buttercream. Not only full of lemon zest, I’ve also smothered the sponges in lemon juice before cooling and covering in buttercream. The purpose of this was two fold – 1) I was making the cake the day before serving, which means it can be difficult to still have that ‘freshly baked’ texture, and 2) who doesn’t love a good, moist (sorry, I know lots of people hate the word, but it’s just so appropriate!) sponge cake.

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I suppose the process of adding lemon juice to a sponge is hardly new – it is exactly what you would do with a lemon drizzle, just minus the sugar. I think since coming back from holiday I have continued to be conscious of my sugar intake (thanks Jamie O!) and there will be more on this soon!

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So for now, I hope you can enjoy this cake and I hope your buttercream covering goes smoother than mine (the pun was certainly intended here – I’m still very much working on my decorating skills!). With the holiday season fast approaching, you never know when you too might need a quick celebration cake up your sleeve!

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Chocolate and Salted Caramel Buttercream Cupcakes…Autumn themed!

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Dark and moist chocolate sponge topped with a wickedly moreish salted caramel buttercream, these cupcakes are delicious. Decorated with autumnal leaves and pumpkins, they would make a wonderful special occasion treat.

I tend to make a version of these decorated cupcakes every year. As we established last week, I love autumn, and so I don’t think there’s a better excuse to go all out. I don’t make decorated cupcakes very often; decorations made of sugar paste may look delightful but are pure sugar and E numbers at the end of the day – not something we should make a habit of eating! But still, sugar lecture over, decorated cakes are perfect for celebrating a special occasion and can take a plain cake to a magical place.

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However, these are not the slightest bit plain to begin with. A light, moist, chocolatey sponge – adapted into cupcakes from my favourite cake recipe – and topped with the most amazing caramel buttercream, they are delightful all on their own. The buttercream is, I think, particularly special. You’d think a caramel buttercream would be hard to make, but it is simply made with soft brown sugar! The, deep, caramel flavours are really brought out in the buttercream, and a small pinch of salt takes it to the next level. The soft brown sugar also gives the buttercream a gentle crunch, which contrasts beautifully to the soft sponge – I can’t wait to try this buttercream with other cakes!

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So… so far, we have a moist, chocolatey sponge and the most amazing caramel buttercream. Both very simple, right? Well, the decorations are no exception to this simple trend! They may look complicated, but I promise they really aren’t and do look very effective. I’ve put some step by step instructions below, and I really would encourage you to give it a try. The secret is all in the leaf cutters you can buy for a few pounds on Amazon!

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Sugarpaste is something I’m keen to learn and develop – so I had some fun creating the autumnal scene below. Some poor teenager has been dragged down to the family allotment to help pull up the pumpkins… he’s still got quite a few to go and does not look impressed!

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Apple, Cinnamon and Walnut Cake

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The perfect tea-time cake; soft, sponge cake dotted with walnuts and sultanas, with a delicious layer of cinnamon apples running through the middle and topped off with crunchy caramelised sugar. Delightful cold for afternoon tea or warm for an autumnal dessert.

I just can’t explain how much I love this cake. I think a lot of it is to do with autumn being my favourite season (just what is there not to love about cold, crisp, sunny mornings and red leaves?!) and this cake feels extremely seasonal; even though the ingredients are around all year round in the UK, the flavours really do taste like autumn on a plate. Sweet but tart apple, fragrant and warming cinnamon, with walnuts scattered throughout it fills your house with wonderful aromas as it bakes – it instantly puts me in the mood for warm, cosy jumpers and wooly socks!

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This cake is from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, and has only been adapted to make it dairy free. It is a delicious, dark sponge with chopped walnuts and sultanas throughout, with the cinnamon apples baked in a layer in the middle of the sponge. The apples keep the cake really moist which is a welcome contrast to crunch from the walnuts. The cinnamon really brings all the flavours together in an autumnal mishmash of goodness!

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The cake also uses light muscavado sugar rather than white caster sugar, which lends a very caramel-like flavour to the sponge. Again, it really adds depth of the other warming flavours in the cake, and goes really well with the tart apple. There is also more brown sugar and walnuts on top – which when baked, does caramelise and it gives a delicious, sugary, crunchy topping. Also means this cake is really quick to prepare – no icing needed!

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This might be my favourite set of photos… Perhaps I’m swayed by my love of the beautiful autumnal colours, or the fact that it was so fun to go hunting in the New Forest for the supplies! Either way, this cake is wonderful warm or cold served as a tea time treat – or, still warm, served with a spoonful of ice cream for a delicious, warming dessert.

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Raspberry Celebration Cake

IMG_2344A 3 tiered celebration cake; layers of delicate lemon sponge sandwiched together with raspberry buttercream and fresh raspberries, and covered in marshmallow-like American Frosting. Ideal for a special occasion celebration.

I’ve just started reducing my hours at work to concentrate more on blogging and turning this into a full time venture, and so it only seemed appropriate for the first bake on my day off to be something fit for a celebration. This cake is just that; delightfully tall, it just shouts ‘big occasion’ and is a wonderful mix of two of my favourite flavours – lemon and raspberries.

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Raspberries are best at this time of year when in season; whether they come from the supermarket, a pick your own farm, or even just picked from a bush at the side of the road, they are delicious. The sweet and sharp flavour works really well with cakes, as the sharp contrast can break through the sweetness – it works perfectly here with the American Frosting. This recipe also uses my Raspberry Curd to flavour the buttercream, giving it a strong raspberry flavour throughout.

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American Frosting is very different to a traditional buttercream; First off, there is no butter in sight. It is essentially a very soft type of meringue. It starts off as Swiss or Italian meringue (depending on if you have a sugar thermometer; I have a recipe for both methods below) but the sugar is not heated as high, resulting in a much softer and more marshmallow-like texture.

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I was inspired by a recent episode of The Great British Bake Off to give the American Frosting a try, and just like the contestants, I found it was not the easiest thing to make. The main place I went wrong was letting it cool too much before slathering it on the cake. Unlike meringue, which you would keep whipping until cool, you need to work with this whilst it is still warm. Follow that tip and you’ll find the recipe faultless.

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Victoria Sponge Cake

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A perfectly classic Victoria Sponge cake; soft, fluffy sponge cakes sandwiched together with vanilla buttercream and fruit jam.

A Victoria Sponge is such a British classic, and in my opinion every good baker should be able to nail a perfect version of it. The reason why I say this is often people think a Victoria Sponge is one of the more simple cakes you can make; and whilst this is true in terms of techniques, it is also difficult in the sense there is no where to hide! With just simple flavours and a dusting of icing sugar on top, the flavours shine and so does your perfect taste and texture.

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One thing I love about this cake is it’s universal appeal. Perfect for children and adults alike it works for birthdays, special occasions or even just when you fancy a bit of cake. You can also play with the flavours to suit your tastes, the occasion or the season. Whilst this is made with half raspberry and half strawberry jam which is ideal for summer, you could also make this with blackberries or apples in autumn, or with rhubarb or oranges in winter.

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A perfect Victoria Sponge consists of two sponge cakes with a light and soft texture, and they should be ever so slightly crumbly when fresh. I’ve substituted the traditional whipped cream filling for a light, not too sweet vanilla buttercream – not only do I personally think this is preferable to cream but it will also keep fresh longer. Also, if you find yourself surrounded by a glut of fresh fruit, you could use this instead of jam for a change.

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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

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Sweet yet tart lemon cupcakes, perfect for a special occasion. A lemon sponge, filled with a pop of lemon curd in the middle, topped with light as air Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

These cupcakes are something special. Lemony to the core (literally!), but topped with Swiss Meringue Buttercream which is definitely worth the effort. This was the first time I’d eaten (let alone made) Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and despite the process being quite lengthy, the result was spectacular. Like a cross between a marshmallow and traditional buttercream, it is the smoothest, lightest icing you will ever eat. Also a bonus that it’s not too sweet, which works wonderfully well with lemons.

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I left these as just pure and simple lemon, which seems just right to show off the two ‘technical’ elements of this cake. Both the Lemon Curd and the Swiss Meringue Buttercream might seem quite daunting, but the good thing is you can do both of them in advance! The Lemon Curd will keep in an unopened jar for a couple of months and the buttercream can be kept in the fridge for a few days before use. Then all you need to do is bake the cupcakes, which I promise is exceedingly simple!

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If the Swiss Meringue Buttercream seems like a step too far, then a regular buttercream would also work well. You will get a sweeter result, but that’s not always a bad thing! Simply cream together 1 part butter to 1 and 1/2 parts icing sugar, and then add lemon curd to taste. I have to say this is one of my favourite buttercreams – the eggs in the curd help the buttercream go a very very pale colour, and it really lightens up the texture.

These cupcakes would make a wonderful gift or treat on a special occasion, and I can promise they will be gratefully received by anyone…. except perhaps someone who doesn’t like lemons!

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Dairy Free Brownies

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Sweet, chocolatey, dangerously indulgent chocolate brownies. Simple and quick to make, they are the perfect dessert or sweet treat. Another seemingly impossible dairy free bake!

Oh brownies. Oh sweet chocolatey brownies. Sweet sweet fudge-y, gooey brownies… they’re just the perfect treat no one can resist! I can’t put into words how much I love this recipe, and keep thinking to myself how funny it is that it has taken me this long to put it on the blog! It’s a recipe I make really often (we’re talking at least twice a month!) and it’s just perfect.

These brownies make a fabulous low effort dessert (I love to drizzle a little chocolate sauce on top with a scoop of dairy free ice cream on the side), or when baked for a few minutes longer they come out as the best cold brownies you will ever have eaten. Still moist and fudge-y like a brownie should be, also like the most indulgent chocolate cake.

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I remember bringing these brownies into work once, and two amazing things happened; they disappeared like lightning, and no one could genuinely believe they were dairy free. One of my biggest fears of giving up dairy was giving up chocolate. And, probably very unsurprisingly, whenever I tell people that I’m allergic to milk, they also think this must mean a life without chocolate…. Wrong!

In come the heroes of this story…. dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Most dark chocolate is made without milk, so by adapting a recipe ever so slightly, you can still get that wonderfully creamy, sweet chocolate taste – just without the milk! Cocoa powder, the other saviour, is rather the same story – always be careful and check the label, but usually it doesn’t contain any milk. Cocoa powder is different from hot chocolate powder (which often does contain milk, and a very high amount of sugar), and being pure cocoa, a small amount goes a long way to provide a chocolate kick.

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This recipe is my go to standard – a recipe from my Boyfriend’s mum, Sue – and it’s so good, so reliable, that it would feel like cheating to even peek at another recipe. It’s also very quick, and you can make them as fussy or simple as you like. I’ve added hazelnuts and dried cranberries as these are some of my favourite things to add to a chocolate recipe (see my Rocky Road recipe to see what I mean!) but they really are perfect without them, just dusted with icing sugar.

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Lemon, Blueberry and Mint Loaf Cake

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Perfect for spring; a light and zesty cake with a hint of fresh mint and bursting with blueberries, drizzled with a lemon and mint icing.

Last weekend the weather was lovely: spring sunshine, warm days and with it came the first BBQ of the year! To celebrate it only made sense to make a cake as bright as the weather outside. This cake is a really lovely take on a traditional pound cake where the same weight of butter, sugar, eggs and flour are used for the sponge. This is my favourite type of recipe for a cake as it always reliably gives a light texture with a buttery and cake-y flavour. Terrible description of pound cake flavour (cake-y, of course it will be cake-y) but you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever had a great pound cake.

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What I love about this recipe is that it just sings ‘Spring is Here!’. With a big hit of lemon zest and a hint of mint, the cake is refreshing and not too sweet. I always find lemon compliments food with a light texture, and that’s no different here. The blueberries really help keep the cake moist, and are a juicy fruity hit when you find them. You could, of course, change the blueberries for any other berries which are in season.

The cake in the picture was made with 4 eggs, which, with hindsight, was too big a cake to successfully have the blueberries suspended throughout – as you can see, almost all of my blueberries sunk to the bottom! Because the cake was so thick, it took too long to set whilst cooking and so the weighty blueberries went down, down, down, down…. When I did it again with only 3 eggs (as per the recipe below) the blueberries stayed beautifully spread throughout the cake. So a word of caution if you plan to make the cake any bigger!

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Lemon & Raspberry Drizzle Cake

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A tangy lemon and raspberry drizzle cake – sweet yet sharp lemon sponge with fresh raspberries dotted throughout. Topped off with a crunchy sugar coating and dusted with icing sugar for added sweetness.

Spring seems to have arrived today. The sun is shining and so I felt it was only appropriate to bake something that reflected the change in seasons. Lemons and raspberries are two of my favourite things and nothing makes me happier than combining the two.

This is a simple twist on the traditional Lemon Drizzle cake – I added in fresh raspberries which, when baked, become these bright pink jewels hidden in the sponge with a wonderful jammy texture that make a pleasing contrast to the crunchy top and moist sponge.

This cake is super quick to make which is helped further by using the all in one method to make the sponge. It is perfect if you are in a rush – either because you’re busy, or, like me, because you just want cake and you want it soon!

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