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.
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!
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!
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!
Filed under cakes, Chocolate
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!
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!
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!
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.
Sweet, tangy Lemon Meringue Pie. Impress your family and friends with this completely homemade dessert; You don’t have to tell them it is a lot simpler than it looks!
Lemon Meringue Pie is really quite self explanatory, but just incase you’ve never eaten one… Imagine thin, crisp, just sweet pastry, with a generous filling of tart lemon curd which makes your house smell Amazing (capital letter definitely justified!) as it bakes, and then topped with soft, pillowy meringue, with a crisp, sugary meringue-crust on the top. Sounds great, right! Now imagine just how good it tastes…
Lemon Meringue Pie is such a classic dessert for a very good reason. The combination of the sweet meringue and pastry, heightened by the sharp lemon curd filling just makes it the perfect way to end a meal. Although sometimes it can be on the sweet side, this recipe provides just the right balance of sweet and tart flavours, giving it an appeal to all the family.
You can make the making of Lemon Meringue Pie as complicated as you like… or we can use a few cheats to really speed it up! The first thing that will be your friend if you are in a hurry is shop bought pastry. Although perhaps not as satisfying as making your own, it sure does speed it up if you need to do this quickly. And, most of them are dairy free! It is very surprising, but read through the ingredients and often they don’t contain any milk… Just avoid the ones that shout about being ‘all butter pastry’ obviously!
The other way to speed this up is to make your lemon curd in advance. OK – so that’s not really ‘saving’ time, as you’ve still got to make it – but Lemon Meringue Pie does not keep very well, so if you’re short on time the day you want to eat it, taking it straight from a jar you’ve previously made is a great time saver. If you do need to make some just for this pie, then take my Lemon Curd recipe and only make 1/2 the recipe (which is a generous amount for this dessert). By making it right before you bake the pie, you save time not faffing around with sterilising jars and worrying about everything being squeaky clean – we do this normally because we want to be able to keep it mould free in the fridge for some time, but here it’s going to eaten that day so we don’t need to worry!
So give this classic dessert a go, and you’ll find this will become a family favourite to go back to time and time again.
A vegan dessert that has convinced even me it is possible to replace cheesecake. Although not cheese-y in the slightest, this is a soft, creamy and fruity dessert sure to fill that cheesecake gap in your life!
OK… Let’s be honest…It can’t really be a cheesecake without cheese. So I’ve named it ‘cheesecake’ as I just couldn’t think of a more apt name for this creamy, fruity, delightful dessert. The filling is soft and light, which surprisingly comes from cashew nuts, coconut milk and coconut oil. Sometimes I think coconut can be an over-used flavour in dairy-free baking, however I loved it paired with blueberries. It is certainly a favour combination I would like to try with other things – pancakes or french toast perhaps?!
One thing that really attracted me to this recipe was that it used what I would call proper ingredients – sometimes I find that dairy-free and vegan recipes can have all sorts of weird ingredients in them and you have no idea what they are or where to buy them from. The creaminess in this ‘cheesecake’ comes from cashew nuts and coconut milk; together, when blended, they produce the most delightful, soft and creamy textured thick paste (sounds delightful, I know, but bear with me), which when chilled has almost the same texture as cream cheese. And because cashew nuts have such a gentle flavour, it leaves room for the coconut and blueberries to stand out.
The other thing I have to admit is that I cheated slightly for the aesthetics of the dessert. This is very unlike me, but I have to admit I added a few drops of purple food colouring into the mix. Perhaps we have different varieties of blueberries here; whereas the blueberries from the original recipe turned the ‘cheesecake’ a brilliant hue of violet, mine turned it a distinct shade of grey… So I cheated and added a tiny bit of food colouring. Let’s be honest – it’s hardly the worst crime in the world and aesthetics of a dessert are important!
As someone who has not eaten a real cheesecake for a very long time, this ‘cheesecake’ was delicious. It really hit the spot for a sweet creamy dessert, and the buttery biscuit base reminded me of the childhood cheesecakes my mum used to make. The dessert was also surprisingly easy and didn’t require baking. Really, apart from melting butter, this was more of an assembly job! The base is frozen, and, once chilled, the blended mixture is poured on top, and then the ‘cheesecake’ is frozen. Thawed thoroughly before eating, it looses any frozen texture and tastes deliciously like a chilled dessert. It may not be a real cheesecake, but it certainly came close!
Soft and chewy Indian flat breads, traditionally made with yoghurt and butter and served alongside dishes from the north of India. With a few substitutions and a simple cooking method, you can now enjoy these at home whenever you please!
I often get a bit of a surprised look from people when I tell them the things I miss most. Cheese, Naan breads and Twixs. I admit, it is a strange list, but the one thing they have all had in common is that you just can’t make them yourself at home and get the same results. People are often surprised at Naan breads not being dairy free – however they almost always contain yoghurt, which gives it it’s chewy texture, and are then slathered in butter.
Well, it turns out that it is possible to make perfect Naan breads at home. And it is really simple. And it doesn’t require any special equipment at all! Who’d have thought?! And, even better, I can genuinely promise you that you would never know there have been any substitutions. Now, when I say simple… You do have to make a bread dough, which I know strikes fear in some people! But I promise it isn’t hard, and as this is quite a wet and sticky dough it is very hard to go wrong. You can’t over or under knead – just play with it for about 5 minutes and you can’t go wrong.
The other reason that I had thought Naan bread would not be possible to make at home is because they are traditionally cooked in a Tandoor – a very hot and dry clay oven which gives them a subtly smokey and charred flavour. The very high temperatures also mean the bread cooks quickly, creating the big air bubbles which give the bread it’s traditional look. To replicate this type of cooking at home is actually, surprisingly, really easy and requires no special equipment at all. All you need is a good non-stick frying pan. Ideally a heavy bottomed pan as this will retain the very high heat better – but any frying pan will work.
Now I’ll admit that you can’t have these without working and waiting for them. However, they freeze and reheat excellently and you can easily double the amount you make. And so that’s it. The secret of making dairy free Naan breads at home is revealed – let us rejoice, as we all know that no curry is complete without a humble and yet majestic Naan bread on the side.
Filed under Bread, Savoury
A 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.
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.
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.
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.
Delicious Raspberry Curd; a berry take on traditional lemon curd which has just as much flavour and will eternally remind me of summer. Perfect for cakes and desserts, or just on its own straight from the jar.
In a previous post about Lemon Curd, I explained how ‘curd’ was this mysterious being… so tasty but I thought far too hard to actually make yourself. Well, once I had made Lemon Curd a few times, mostly successfully (once it ended up like scrambled eggs… that was a disaster!), my confidence grew and I started to think about what other kinds of curds could be made – and it seems the options are endless!
Of course with my love of raspberries, Raspberry Curd was going to be the first one I tried, and it’s one I go back to making every summer. And what makes making Raspberry Curd even better than Lemon Curd? Raspberry picking! I often double this recipe which then requires a lot of raspberries, so I use this as an excuse to go to a pick your own farm and pick a huge amount of fruit. I still remember going strawberry picking with my family when I was little, and I think it will forever be one of those summer activities that brings out the child in me… As I obviously sneakily ate a few as I went round!
Raspberry Curd can be used just like Lemon Curd; it’s great as a tart or cake filling, spooned over ice cream, turned into a delicious buttercream, or just eaten straight from the jar. You can use them a filling in my Raspberry Meringue Cupcakes, and I have a few more recipes coming over the next few weeks which feature this delicious Raspberry Curd.
These chocolate meringues make a great dessert paired simply with berries and vanilla ice cream. Chewy and very chocolatey, they make a wonderful alternative to traditional white meringues.
Flavoured meringues were something I had wanted to try for ages. I don’t know why, but whenever I see flavoured, colourful meringues in the shops they just look so appealing; and none more so than chocolate meringues. At this time of year when berries are popping up everywhere, light, chocolatey desserts are the perfect accompaniment. So I thought I’d give them a try!
Having had lots of busy weekends one after the other, these were great to make as a quick dessert as once the meringues were done, it only needed some fruit and ice cream on the side. They also keep really well in an air tight container for 4 – 5 days, making them perfect to bake in advance and have ready when needed.
I’ll be honest and say they are a bit trickier than a normal meringue – only because you have to be really gentle folding in the chocolate and cocoa powder. But if you can handle standard meringue, you will be absolutely fine with these. Whereas normal white meringues can become very crunchy, crack easily and taste mostly of lightly caramelised sugar, these are the opposite – wonderfully chewy, more sturdy in texture and with chocolate chips studded throughout they’re full of flavour.
If you’re feeling fancy, you could make a quick raspberry sauce to pour on top – or use my raspberry curd recipe which I will be posting soon. They’re great without it, but the sauce does add an extra bit of zing to compliment the sweet chocolate meringue.