Thursday, 30 September 2010

Apple, Date and Walnut Spice Cake

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and all that Keats said, to wrap it up in one cake: Apple, Date and Walnut Spice Cake.  Moist chunks of apple, sweet dates and walnuts with a warm spicy aroma. 

Slightly smaller after 'testing' but packed with fruit and nut.


Pre bake day:
4oz (110g) Dried dates - chopped and soaked the day or two before in a small glass of brandy or apple juice

4oz (110g) Butter

4oz (110g) Demerara sugar
1 tbsp Maple syrup (or runny honey)
2 Eggs
8oz (225g) Self raising flour
1tsp Mixed spice
½ tsp Nutmeg or mace

4oz (110g) Walnut pieces (Also works well with pecans.)
4oz (110g) Cooking apples (2 Bramleys)
Lemon juice to sprinkle over the cut apples

½ tbsp Maple Syrup or Honey
1 tbsp Demerara Sugar


Preheat oven 140c/120c Fan/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Grease a loaf tin and line it with baking paper if your tins tend to stick. For this recipe I made three testing muffins and put the rest in a loaf tin.

Cut apples into small ‘cube’ chunks about 1 cm and sprinkle with lemon juice to stop discoloration. Cover and put to one side.

Cream the sugar and butter together, add the maple syrup and whisk in. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in half the flour and spices, and then coat the chopped apple and walnuts and dates in the remaining flour and combine with the cake batter.  The mixture is quite chunky so you will need to spoon it into the tin and/or muffin cases.

Check after 15 minutes. Take muffins out if done and keep cake in for an extra 20-25 minutes subject to your oven temperature and if you have split the mixture; you will have a smaller loaf and a shorter cooking time. Remember; cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out.

Remove cake from oven and while it is still in the tin, brush the top with some syrup or honey and sprinkle over with Demerara sugar. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, make sure sides of the cake are coming away from the tin and remove.  Cool or eat straight away!

Now here’s the problem; it tastes really good straight out of the oven, it also tastes really good if you wrap it and eat it the next day.  Decisions, decisions….One last tip, cut with a good sharp knife, just in case you have to cut through a walnut piece on the way. It’s always easier to cut on the next day if it lasts.  I don’t recommend freezing this and generally, there’s no point….

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Cake Music?

Distracted yet again - find myself looking at You Tube for more cake bands/ songs.................

Average White Band - Cut The Cake (Live At Sinbad's Summer Jam)

gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme,
gimme gimme gimme gimme
gimme that cake

Friday, 24 September 2010

Pear and Ginger Cake

This cake is being relegated into the 'Outtakes' section as a lesson for not following the recipe in full and generally breaking one or two baking rules. Did you notice that the photo has not been proudly displayed on top? Well, being disappointed with cake shouldn't happen but...

Bad idea trying to change a recipe 3/4 through cooking ... 
I really liked the combo of  pear with ginger in a cake but during the baking I decided that the recipe I had chosen ; "A Pear and Ginger Upside Down Cake", seemed more pudding time than tea time.  I wanted a cake as a coffee cake or a loaf cake. However, changing your mind three quarters of the way through cooking and then, flipping the cake over into a different cold tin, isn’t going to do it any favours. Never mind about not opening the oven door, let's just get the whole thing out and ruin it properly!

Despite changing tins and destroying the full rising process, the cake maintained its shape  surprisingly begin with..... I hastily took a picture. As I cut  into it,  bits began to fall off the side and I started to think; what an ugly looking cake. Yes, it gets the prize for the  ugliest cake photo to-date because I was looking at those pears on top and thinking; they look like slugs. You really didn't want to read that in a food blog, did you? Food stylists everywhere have gone to find a stiff drink.

Those are pears on top !
Despite changing tins and destroying the full rising process the cake maintained its texture pretty well. It looked better for being sliced up and served with ladles of custard. Also, it still tasted quite 'nice' which is a polite British way of saying 'Yes, it's sweet and I can swallow it but I never want seconds'. The conference pears I had used were pretty tasteless and overwhelmed by the caramel base which of course, is now the top. The ginger cake was fairly mild, I would certainly up that or add some stem ginger next time.

For those of you not put off, I am assured that if you follow the recipe correctly and bake it  in a shallow tin with the pears and caramel on the bottom, you will have a perfectly wonderful Upside Down Pear and Ginger Cake. I am going to continue to find a pear and ginger loaf recipe for tea-time which does not involve flipping cakes over and even looks beautiful when you turn it out of the tin. Twitter me if you know of one!

Cake :
5oz (140g) Butter

6oz (170g) Brown sugar
2 tbsp Dark treacle
1 Egg
oz (225g) Self raising flour
3tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp of ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ pint of warm milk

3 firm pears


Preheat oven 140c/120c Fan/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Cream together 2 oz (50g) of the fat with 3 oz (80g) of the sugar. Spread over the bottom of a well greased shallow tin and cover with thinly sliced pears.

Cream remaining fat and sugar and beat in egg, add treacle and cream again. Mix together dry ingredients and mix into creamed ingredients with the warmed milk.  Pour into tin on top of pears and cook for 40 minutes or until cooked through . Serve hot with custard or cold with cream.

My Friend the Chocolate Cake

'My Friend the Chocolate Cake' the name of this band caught my eye for some reason!  Clever marketing, maybe there are more cake bands out there?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Chocolate Beetroot Cake

I’m just pulling up the last of the beetroot now and this makes a fantastic moist Chocolate Cake.  

Text Only Printable Recipe


Cake :
8oz (225g) Butter

8oz (225g) Golden caster sugar
1 tbsp Dark treacle
4 Eggs
6oz (170g) Self raising flour
2oz (60g) of Dark cocoa powder (Green and Blacks ).
Milk *

100g bar of 70% Dark chocolate
4oz of Beetroot cooked not pickled! About 2 small beets

*(I would normally recommend medium size eggs which should weigh 2oz each.  This isn’t always the case and if the mixture feels too stiff after adding the flour, add tbsp of milk at a time to achieve a soft dropping consistency.)


8oz (225g) Icing sugar
1 oz (30g) Cocoa powder
2 oz (60g) Butter
2 tbsp Cream
2 tbsp Water

Chocolate shavings to decorate


Preheat oven to a moderate temperature 160c/140c Fan/325F/Gas Mark 3.

Grease sandwich cake tins. I like using my false bottom 7 inch ones (oo er…) and I add an extra bit of greaseproof paper at the bottom as well.

In a blender (I use a Magimix with a Sabatier blade) chop up the bar of chocolate as finely as possible, then add your beetroot and chop.  You should be left with a ‘spoonable’ puree. The less you want to see your beetroot pieces, the smoother the puree should be. Put to one side.

Cream the sugar and butter together, add the treacle and whisk in. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in half the flour and cocoa, and then fold in the beetroot and chocolate puree.  Finally fold in the rest of the flour and cocoa and add milk as required.

Divide into two cake sandwich tins. You can weigh each one to make sure you have the same weight of mixture in both, for two even bakes. Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 15-20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool and make icing. 

Simple butter cream – whisk butter, cream and icing sugar and cocoa powder together. Add tbsp of hot water at a time until smooth enough to spread in and over cake. Decorate with chocolate shavings or as desired. I've made this 5 times now and the results are very consistent even though the evidence disappears!

I was pleased with the icing as well and it made a change from the chocolate fudge cake recipes.  I could almost convince myself it was slightly healthy!

Next blog due: This evening I have made a Pear and Ginger Cake which did not go quite to plan. Tried to do something different and did not quite follow instructions on recipe.  It tastes really good but it's very ugly. Tomorrow I will have to create my "Outtakes Page"....