Carrot cake is the marmite of cakes – people either love it or they hate it. I’m a strange one, a carrot cake convert we might say. I never used to like it (perhaps I thought all carrot cake tasted very carrot-y?) but was 100% converted by this recipe. It is now one of my go-to’s if I fancy making a quick cake.
Even better, I think I’ve really cracked making a cake gluten, wheat and dairy free without people being able to tell. I can boldly say this as I did quite a few taste tests on people at work and no one could tell the difference. I have a colleague who is unable to eat gluten or wheat, so often I’ve been put off bringing my baking to work knowing how it feels to be the one missing out. However, I thought this would be a great recipe to attempt switching the flour for an alternative because, as far as cakes go, carrot cakes have a relatively low amount of flour in them as they are also held together by the carrot. I used Doves Farm’s gluten and wheat free self raising flour and I have to say I was pleased and amazed at the results. I will definitely be making them again and trying some different cake recipes with the flour.
This carrot cake has an interesting mix of ingredients, but do give it a try as they work perfectly together. The sultanas are bursts of sweetness throughout the cake, a good contrast to the crunch of the walnuts; and the coconut, cinnamon and nutmeg compliment the sweet carrot flavour to make the cake very aromatic.
The recipe also calls for quite a lot of carrots, so choose your carrots carefully based on how carrot-y you like your carrot cake. It is quite simple… If you want a stronger carrot flavour, use fresh carrots – the lovely bright orange juicy ones. If you don’t want a very carrot-y carrot cake, use older carrots – the slightly duller in colour and drier ones. Like I said, simples! Continue reading
Deliciously rich, moist and intense chocolate cake with a hazelnut truffle buttercream filling and covered in chocolate ganache, it’s perfect for any special occasion. No one will ever believe this is dairy free!
Is there any cake as universally loved as chocolate cake? Certainly not in my experience, and what’s wonderful about chocolate cake is the huge variety you can make. A chocolate cake can be light, sweet and perfect for an afternoon treat or it can be rich, dark and decadent. This cake without a doubt falls into the second category.
The chocolate sponge gets its depth of flavour and soft texture from some surprising ingredients – melted chocolate, coffee and coconut yoghurt. The chocolate and coffee provide the intense chocolate flavour – be sure not to skip the coffee, you really can’t taste it but it helps bring out the chocolate flavour like nothing else. The coconut yoghurt is added to help the cake stay soft and moist and it provides a slightly tangy unsweet flavour which works well in such a rich cake. You could use any type of plain non dairy yoghurt but I preferred coconut. You can’t taste the coconut flavour, but it provides the tang of normal yoghurts which I find most non dairy yoghurts lack.
The hazelnut truffle buttercream filling has to be one of my favourite things about this cake and no words will do it justice. Naughtily smooth, sweet and chocolatey but less rich than the ganache, it is the perfect filling to provide sweetness to the rest of the cake. It’s called ‘truffle’ filling because you could refrigerate this buttercream and when cold, spoon it into little truffles… Not that I did that of course…
To finish off the cake I’ve covered it with chocolate ganache and chopped roasted hazelnuts. Ganache is just chocolate and cream but it makes the perfect cover for a special occasion cake, shiny and smelling divine it makes the cake irresistible to all… even to those rare people who say they don’t like chocolate cake!
Filed under cakes, Chocolate
Happy New Year! I find it strange the way January starts the year. After all the excitement in December, January can seem dull and plain with little to look forward to. So today I created these cupcakes, full of wonderful summery flavours to remind us that winter will shortly be giving way to the brighter seasons.
These cupcakes are lightly flavoured with lemon and then with a hit of raspberry in the centre – provided by my homemade Raspberry Curd in this instance – but you could easily do this with raspberry jam if making curd is a step too far! Raspberries are, in my opinion, one of the best summer fruits. Once they are back in season I will do a step by step post on how to make raspberry curd – it is well worth the time and effort.
— Update! — If you would like to see how to make the Raspberry Curd, the full recipe is here.
I decided to top these cupcakes with meringue as Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favourite desserts, and it makes such a nice change to heavy buttercream as a topping. I’ve used Italian Meringue as it is already cooked by the time you top the cupcakes by whisking in a hot sugar syrup so it doesn’t create any wetness on your cakes. Plus its tasty 😀
Filed under cakes, Meringue
Orange Blossom and Cranberry Cupcakes
These cupcakes were a bit of an experiment and one I will certainly be making again. Orange blossom water was also a new ingredient for me, and it provided a very grown up and delicate orange flavour to the buttercream icing.
Another success with these cupcakes was a new recipe for dairy free buttercream. After a lot of research on the internet, I read about a vegetable oil based ‘butter’ called Trex. What a great discovery this was! Trex has a similar consistency and look to lard – very hard, slightly crumbly and very white in colour. My usual buttercream recipe uses just dairy free butter, such as pure, but this can be very soft given that Pure has a similar consistency to margarine.
For this buttercream I reduced the amount of dairy free butter and replaced it with Trex – and voila – a smooth, creamy and stiff buttercream! It was a dream to pipe and kept its shape beautifully.
Beautifully piped improved dairy free buttercream recipe
The cranberries in the cake are a hidden surprise. For these I sprinkled the cranberries in the bottom of each case and the spread the batter on top. Next time though I would definitely incorporate the cranberries into batter.
I topped each with a piece of Pecan Brittle (recipe can be found in my Chocolate Caramel cake) for decoration… plus made some extra for me to eat, but that’s just between you and I!
And incase you’re wondering… yes, that is Pudsey Bear on my cupcake cases. Lakeland are currently selling them and donating part of the cost back to Children In Need.
So this week, as I’ve been talking about my blog at work, I was challenged to come in with some office treats. I think I definitely overstretched myself on a Wednesday evening!
For in I came with a made up concoction – Chocolate caramel cake, topped with caramel icing and salted pecan brittle. I agree – even I was impressed that I managed that all in an evening after work… The end result was great though – a light, moist chocolate sponge, buttery (although made without normal butter!) sweet caramel buttercream icing, with a crunchy piece of nutty brittle on top – delightful. And the best comment from a friend who tried it – they would never have guessed or been able to tell it was dairy free. Music to my ears!
I will admit that I had to do the caramel sauce for the icing twice. The first time my thoughts were on dinner so I overcooked it slightly… and in the bin it went! Also, having neglected to properly check ingredients, I did not see that I only had about a third of the required amount of cocoa powder, so a certain amount of improvisation was needed that I would not do again. I added 60g of a dark 80% chocolate bar which I thought would compensate, but the resulting sponge was not chocolatey enough my colleges and I decided.
The pecan brittle was a real first attempt, and worked surprisingly well. It was just on the right side of burnt – with a smokiness that cut through the usual sugary sweetness of brittles. I have though bought myself a sugar thermometer for next time to ensure it doesn’t go to the wrong side of burnt 🙂
Chocolate Caramel Cupcake with Salted Pecan Brittle
Welcome to my first post!
Coffee & Walnut Cupcakes
This cake is from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible – a book that’s been instrumental in my baking journey so far. The original recipe is for a large tray bake, and this version is simply scaled down for cupcakes. I have to say I would definitely do them as cupcakes again, it really helped keep the sponge more moist which really worked for these flavours. I like a healthy amount of walnuts in these cakes, so am always more generous than the recipe states.