1

Sweetie Jar cake

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Time for another outrageous cake! I’m starting to love doing these. They’re so much fun. This was made for my special bud Sam for her birthday. My thinking behind it was quite simply: Sam loves sweets. Sam loves cake. Lets get those two together and create something truly disgusting! There were a few drafts before I came up with the final idea. Firstly I was going to make one big sponge in the shape of a sweet. Which then turned into me wanting to hide sweets inside the cake. Like a piñata cake. Which then turned into a cake covered in sweets but just a normal round sponge. Which then turned into shaping the sponge into a sweet jar. And voila! The sweetie jar cake was born. And then eaten. It had a short life poor thing.

IMG_3205Inside it’s a normal sponge peppered with hundreds and thousands to give it some colour. It seemed a shame to have just normal sponge under something so colourful.

The proper term is Funfetti cake I believe. It wasn’t that easy. The recipes all say to mix in your hundreds and thousands carefully so they don’t bleed into the batter. But I found they bled so quickly even one stir ruined them to smears. Not attractive. So I found the best way was to add a thin layer of batter to the tin, sprinkle on the H&Ts, then add another layer, sprinkle and so on until all the batter is gone. You will get some spreadage of colour but the majority will be ok.

Also, I couldn’t find bright hundreds and thousands in the shops. I had to go online. Look for their proper name of ‘Non-Pariels’. Who knew? Don’t use the bland coloured ones you’ll find in your supermarket, they will make your cake look like swampy sludge. You need the old school full of e-numbers stuff. This is cake people. No health here please. As I’ve harped on before, you need the bad stuff to make good cake! OK I’m off my soapbox now. See below for how I made it.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Rectangular cake tin. Mine was 25cm X 17.5cm

Icing

  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk

Decoration

  • Hundreds and thousands
  • Sweets – lots of

Method

  • Preheat over to 180′C/Gas Mark 4 and line your baking tin with baking paper.
  • Mix all your cake batter ingredients together by hand (good luck), electric hand whisk (better) or food mixer (now you’re talking!)
  • IMG_3198Get a small palette knife and spread a thin layer of batter in the cake tin. Liberally sprinkle a layer of hundreds and thousands. Add more batter in small dollops, then spread out flat with your knife. And another layer of hundreds and thousands. Repeat until batter has gone. Top layer should be batter. I think I only managed about three layers.
  • Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

For the buttercream:

Beat the icing sugar and butter together for at least 3 minutes. Add the milk to loosen it if it’s too thick.

IMG_3200Once the cake is cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 20 mins. Then remove from the tin and leave to cool fully on a wire rack. Whilst cooling make a sweet jar template on a piece of paper. I got one off the net and cut it out to fit the tin. Place it on top of the cooled cake and cut out your jar. Now its time to add the buttercream. Spread a thin layer on first. It’ll be very crumby but that’s OK. Leave it in the fridge for 30 mins to harden. Then add another layer, a bit thicker and it should be pretty crumb free. It doesn’t have to look perfect as you’ll be covering it in sweets. It’s merely acting as a glue.

Then its the fun part. Get your sweets and start sticking! There was no pattern, I just went for it. Leave the smaller sweets to fill in the holes. For the lid I had some orange royal icing which I simply rolled and cut to look as much like a lid as possible. I attempted to spray it silver but that failed miserably. In the end the orange stood out far better anyway.

I was anxious to see if the inside had really worked but obviously had to wait until the birthday girl had seen it. Not sure turning up with a cake cut into is the done thing. Success!

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So pwetty…..

I was very pleased with this cake. It was impossible to eat and smelt revolting (I’ve never smelt anything so sickly sweet). But it looked fab and Sam loved it. Job done!

Sarah

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1

Swedish Almond Cake

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So we’ve neglected our blogging duties for a bit (a rather long bit) but we’re back now. Baking loud and baking proud. And to start off the new years baking proceedings I present to you the Swedish Almond cake. Now essentially this is a vanilla sponge with sugary sweet almonds on top. But its not a sponge like we know it. This version is rather eggy and low on butter. It doesn’t taste much different to the normal sponge, maybe slightly heavier? I think its just as good though. But it’s the topping that really makes it. Sweet, crunchy, delicious almonds. I’m a sucker for almonds in a cake.

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I got this recipe from my ‘Rachel Allen’s Cake Diaries’ and followed the recipe exactly. See below:

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 75 g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

For the topping

  • 50g butter
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 3 tbsp double or regular cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease the base and sides of a 23 x 6cm springform or loose-bottomed cake tin with butter and dust with flour – if you’re using a spring-form tin, make sure the base is upside down, so there’s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked.
  2. Using a handheld electric beater or an electric food mixer, whisk together the eggs and the sugar for 5-7 minutes, or until thick and mousse-like.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and pour in the vanilla extract, milk and melted butter, then fold everything in until combined. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out moist but not totally clean, as the mixture will still need another 10 minutes of cooking. Increase the heat to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
  4. For the topping: Just before the 30-35 minutes are up, make the topping. Place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. When it has melted, add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, allowing the mixture to bubble away for 1 minute.
  5. After the cake has been cooking for the first 30-35 minutes, remove it from the oven and spoon the almond mixture evenly over the top. Place it back in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the topping is golden.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Using a small, sharp knife, loosen around the edges and carefully remove the sides of the tin before placing the cake (still on the base of the tin) on a wire rack to cool down fully.

This cake is seriously tasty. Even my brother loved it and he’s no cake fan. If you like almonds and love cake, this is the one for you.

Sarah x

1

Coffee and walnut cake with coffee buttercream

Coffee and walnut cakeThe coffee and walnut cake. What is there to say about it? It’s a classic cake. It’s also delicious. Fact. If you look up delicious in the dictionary there will be a photo of a coffee and walnut cake. If you disagree on how tasty it is then you are a fool! Bit harsh? Nope. Well, maybe, but I think it might actually be the law to like it. So because it is amazing I decided to bake one and eat it. I could have baked it in two cake tins to sandwich together, but I thought I would try it in two loaf tins so that it would be easier to slice (and look nice in a photo!). This cake is topped with light and fluffy coffee buttercream, A LOT of it, and lovely crunchy walnuts. Mm mm mmmm! You could swap it for decaff if you’re caffiene free. Here’s how to bake it:

Ingredients for the cake

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 3 tbsp strong instant coffee
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 100g chopped walnuts

Ingredients for the buttercream

  • 150g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp strong instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp boiling water
  • Chopped walnuts

Method for the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/gas mark 4 and grease and line the cake tin
  • Dissolve 3 tbsp coffee in 2 tbsp water and leave to cool
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until pale, light and creamy
  • Add one egg at a time, beating well into the mixture after each addition
  • Add the cooled coffee into the cake mixture and beat until well combined
  • Add the flour, baking powder and walnuts and mix well together
  • Divide into the cake tins and smooth over the top with a palette knife or a wooden spoon
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
  • Allow the cakes to cool (out of the cake tin) before icing

Method for the buttercream

  • Make up 2 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water and leave it to cool down
  • Beat the butter and icing sugar together until pale and light
  • Add the coffee and mix together well
  • Spread the buttercream over the top of the cake (and in between the two sponges if making a layered cake)
  • Sprinkle over chopped walnuts

EAT!

Claire

5

Disco Loaf

IMG_2529Is this cake bright enough? IS IT? Yes it really is isn’t it. Sometimes all I want is a simple sponge. But you have to admit, the insides lack a certain something. Panache. Snaz. Etc. The outside can easily be decorated but the inside? The inside alas, gets forgotten. But not by me. This actually harks back to when I was a kid. A simple sponge was my limit but I could go nuts with the colours. E numbers were my childhood drug of choice. Recently I bought a load of food colouring (the liquid kind) and made a sponge ring cake. The colours were so insipid. What a letdown. I checked the bottles and they were made with ‘natural’ food dyes. Bleugh. I don’t want natural! You think when I’m eating cake I’m thinking of my health? Who is for crying out loud? Give me those E numbers and give them to me now. So the next obvious step was to get some PROPER food colour. And that came in the form of paste. That stuff is the shizzle. I knew it wouldn’t let me down (because I already had it in red). There are soooo many colours available but I went for the classics. They come in small pots and are like intensely coloured goo.IMG_2625 You need such a small amount so start with a bit and work up. Also the baking process tends to make colours more intense I find. This happened with the purple. It didn’t look great raw but turned out lovely once it came out the oven. These are by Sugarflair but there are other brands around.

I made a normal sponge but divided the mixture between four bowls and added food dye to each. Next I shoved the batters into piping bags and sniped the ends off. Only about 1cm up. Then I proceeded to make strips in my pre-lined loaf tin, so it ended up looking like this:

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I  baked it in the oven for about 30-40 mins on about gas mark 4 until cooked.

IMG_2520I ate my first slice warm and was transported back to childhood. Thank you radioactive food colourings! You bring me joy.

 

Sasa

 

2

Malteser cupcakes

Malteser cupcakes

Cake with Maltesers! An exciting combination. I made these for a friend who loves Maltesers. And who doesn’t? Plus I kept a few back for me. For quality control purposes. Light malty sponge with Malteser flavoured butter icing, topped with whole and crushed Maltesers. Oh yeah. Here’s how to make them, along with a warning below for your consideration…

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes:

For the cake:

  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 2 heaped tbsp Ovaltine (I couldn’t find any in my local shop so used Horlicks. It worked. Although I would like to try Ovaltine next time.)

For the butter icing:

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 75g Maltesers (for decoration and snacking)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • For the cake: Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4/160C and place the cupcake cases into a cupcake tray or directly onto a baking tray.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, flour and Ovaltine and beat until smooth.
  • Spoon the cake mix into the paper cases and bake for 15 – 20  minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the centres spring back when pressed lightly. (When baking cakes never open the door until the time stated in the recipe has been reached. Otherwise the cakes won’t rise properly and are likely to sink in the middle. Once the time has been reached you can check if they’re ready and pop them back in if not.)
  • Once cooked, leave to cool slightly in the tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For the butter icing: Using a food processor or bashing with a rolling pin (while in a bag), crush the Maltesers into a fine dust and keep in a separate bowl for now. (See the warning below for the significance of this step coming first if using a food processor.)
  • Beat the butter and icing sugar together (adding the icing sugar a bit at a time) until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy.
  • Then add the vanilla extract and the Malteser dust and beat a bit more.
  • Decorate the cakes with the butter icing. I spread mine over these ones. After I had a piping fail.
  • Warning: Two pieces of advice – 1) If you decide to pipe the butter icing onto the cakes, the Malteser pieces must be small enough to pass through the piping nozzle. 2) If using a food processor to make the butter icing the Malteser pieces must be crushed before they are added to the butter and icing sugar mixture. Sounds obvious, right? No my friend. Beware. Maltesers are crafty and tempting. I had already beat in the Malteser dust and was ready to start decorating, but was overcome with greed and Malteser frenzy, and added more and more whole ones. I was using a food processor and the whole ones didn’t get crushed enough in amongst the butter icing, which was not detected until it was too late and there was already a jam in the piping bag. A jam in the piping bag is very bothersome so take heed of this warning!
  • Break up some more Maltesers using a knife, crumble the pieces over the cakes and top with a whole one. Ta-dah!

I found this recipe online here. Thank you Sunday Girl.

Claire

1

Blueberry upside down cake

The upside down cake has to be one of the easiest and tastiest cakes to bake. Having decided to indulge in a bit of baking I found a great recipe for a blueberry version in one of my cook books ‘Step-by-step baking’ by Caroline Bretherton (highly recommended by the way, it has everything in it with yummy photos). I managed to convince myself, again, that it was healthy. What? *looks shifty* It contains fruit! Plus it’s purple. Hurrah! If you would like to know how I baked this cake then read on…

Blueberry upside down cake

Ingredients

  • 150g (5.5oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 150g (5.5oz) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract (not essence. Never essence)
  • 100g (3.5oz) self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 50g (1.75oz) ground almonds
  • 250g (9oz) fresh blueberries

I used an 8 inch loose bottom cake tin.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F/Gas 4) and place a baking sheet inside. Grease the cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use an electric whisk to save time!)
  • Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla extract, whisking well between each addition, until well combined.
  • Sift together the flour and baking powder, then add the ground almonds, and fold into the batter.
  • Tip the blueberries into the tin so that they cover the whole base and spread the batter gently over them.
  • Bake the cake on the baking sheet in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. A skewer should come out clean.
  • Leave to cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin. Now for the fun bit…place a plate on top of the tin, turn everything upside down and then carefully lift off the tin. Ta-dah! Blueberry upside down cake.
  • Eat immediately.

Claire x