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Orange Fennel and Honey Loaf Cake Recipe

I do love a loaf cake…easy to make and requiring little decoration, they are a perfect weekend teatime treat. I devised this recipe for a feature in the November 2018 edition of Irish Country Magazine and hence had the pleasure of having talented photographer Ramona Farrelly follow me in its making in my kitchen…thank you for these lovely photos Ramon!

This is a classic loaf cake recipe, kept moist by the addition of yogurt and given a refreshing zing with orange zest and syrup. Fennel seeds add a subtle liquorice flavour and heighten the sweetness of the orange. Decorated here with dried edible flowers and chopped pistachios feel free to experiment with presentation…an orange icing would also work well, as would candied orange slices or other nuts.

Orange Fennel and Honey Loaf Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 190g unsalted Irish butter
  • 190g plain flour
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 3 medium free range Irish eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 25g natural greek yogurt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 3tsp fennel seed

Ingredients for the syrup and decoration:

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1tbsp Irish honey
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Handful chopped pistachios (optional)
  • Handful dried flower petals (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320F.  Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
  2. Lightly toast the fennel seed in a hot pan until fragrant. Pour into a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Cream together the butter, caster sugar and orange zest in an electric mixer or by hand until light.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, ground fennel and salt.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time into the butter sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.
  6. Add in the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
  7. Finally add the yogurt and mix again.
  8. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 45-55 mins until the top of the loaf is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Meanwhile make the syrup. Add the orange juice, honey and sugar to a pan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer until reduced slightly. Pour over the loaf cake when it comes out of the oven.
  10. Remove the cake from the tin after 10-15mins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Decorate with chopped pistachios and dried flower petals if desired.

Rose Butter Madeleines with White Chocolate and Pistachio Praline

 

I recently received the most amazingly fragrant organic roses from Bumblebee Flower Farm in West Cork. The scent was something that you would never get from a standard shop-bought rose…these roses were those that you just wish to close your eyes and breathe for. My purpose was to try out some of the beautiful summer blooms from Bumblebee Farm for use as decoration in some of my cake designs, but I couldn’t pass the smell of these roses without thinking that I had to incorporate that scent into a cake too!

Madeleines are small French butter cakes baked in pretty scalloped-shaped madeleine moulds. I had only made them once before but thought that making a delicate rose-scented version would be perfect for these dainty teatime treats. To capture the scent of the rose petals, I infused the butter in the recipe first which resulted in a deliciously subtle sweet and fragrant flavour. If you can’t get your hands on rose petals feel free of course to add a little rosewater for a similar taste. This base recipe would also work with other flowers such as lavender.

Normally my recipes are self-explanatory but much like other French baked goods (macarons spring immediately to mind!), I have found that making madeleines is not quite as straightforward as it seems and a few little tricks are essential! In my first attempt at this recipe I only buttered the tin, resulting in cakes that stuck tight. A dust of flour is essential. Recipes vary greatly and I initially didn’t chill my batter but they subsequently rose and spread hugely outside the moulds, tasting delicious but losing their pretty shape. I found chilling the batter in the tin for about 30 mins solved this. I have also found that the light sponge doesn’t stay fresh for long, so feel no guilt in devouring these tiny treats on the day they are made!

Rose Butter Madeleines with White Chocolate and Pistachio Praline

Ingredients for the Rose Butter Madeleines:

  • 60g unsalted butter
  • Handful fragrant edible rose petals (or use 1/4 tsp of rosewater or other flavouring)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the Pistachio Praline:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g shelled pistachios

To decorate (optional):

  • 100g white chocolate
  • Pistachio Praline
  • Dried rose petals

Step 1: To make the rose butter madeleines, preheat the oven to 170°C/315F.

Step 2: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the rose petals and leave to infuse, swirling now and then. The butter should become fragrant with the rose petals. Have a small taste to check and if not leave for a little longer or add more petals.

Step 3: Use a little of the butter to brush over the moulds of a madeleine tin. Then dust the moulds with a little flour, tapping out any excess.

Step 4: Whisk together the egg and caster sugar using a handheld or stand whisk until the mixture is pale and mousse like and has increased in volume.

Step 5: Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg and sugar mixture and fold in gently until just combined

Step 6: Strain the butter into the mixture, discarding the rose petals, and fold in gently until combined.

Step 7: Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each of the moulds of the madeleine tray and place in the fridge for 30 mins.

Step 8: To make the pistachio praline, roughly chop the pistachios and place a square of baking paper on a tray.

Step 9: Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat, swirling regularly until dissolved.

Step 10: Continue to heat the sugar until it caramelises, taking care not to burn.

Step 11: Remove from the heat, add the chopped pistachios and quickly stir to coat in the caramel. Pour out onto the baking parchment and leave to cool.

Step 12: Place the praline in a chopper or pestle and mortar and grind to a rough consistency.

Step 13: To finish the madeleines, remove the madeleine tray from the fridge and bake for approximately 12-15 mins until risen and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before gently removing each madeleine from its mould using a palette knife. Leave to cool on a wire wrack.

Step 14; Melt the white chocolate in a cup or small bowl in the microwave. Dip the tip of each madeleine in the white chocolate and place on a sheet of baking paper. Sprinkle some pistachio praline and rose petals over the top. Enjoy immediately!

Lemon Raspberry Hibiscus Loaf Cake Recipe

 

I recently came across dried Hibiscus flowers on one of my many compulsive deli wanderings. Ruby red in colour, it is consumed as a tea, with a tart berry-like flavour, often requiring the addition of sugar to counteract this. I love using teas to flavour cakes and decided to try Hibiscus in a loaf cake, paired with the classic combination of lemon and raspberry. This cake recipe is deliciously moist due to the addition of natural yogurt, and the hibiscus flavour is introduced as a drizzle syrup, and in a tangy cream cheese icing. I decorated with candied hibiscus flowers, pistachio praline crumb (I do like to add pistcachio to all things possible!) and thyme flowers, but would be equally as good just with a smattering of fresh raspberries. Enjoy with a cup of your favourite brew!

(Note: If hibiscus flowers are hard to find this recipe is delicious as a simple lemon raspberry loaf cake. Simply substitute lemon juice for the hibiscus water in the syrup and omit the hibiscus syrup in the icing. Or ice with a simple mix of icing sugar and lemon juice!).

Lemon Raspberry Hibiscus Loaf Cake

Ingredients for the Lemon Rasberry Cake:

  • 190g unsalted butter
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Finely grated zest 2 lemons
  • 25g natural yogurt
  • Handful of frozen raspberries

Ingredients for the Hibiscus Syrup:

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g boiling water
  • Handful dried hibiscus flowers

Ingredients for the Hibiscus Lemon Cream Cheese Icing :

  • 100g cream cheese
  • 2tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • 2tbsp hibiscus syrup
  • Finely grated zest 1 lemon

To decorate (optional):

  • Candied Hibiscus flowers (you can buy these in a syrup in some good delis)
  • Thyme flowers
  • Pistachio crumb
  • Other options include fresh raspberries, candied lemon peel and edible flowers!

Step 1: To make the lemon raspberry cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/315F.  Grease and line a loaf tin.

Step 2: Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer (or hand mixer) until pale. Scrape down sides regularly.

Step 3: Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Step 4: Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.

Step 5: Add the flour to the butter and sugar mixture and mix on slow speed until just combined.

Step 6: Add the natural yogurt and mix again until combined.

Step 7: Pour the batter into the lined tin. Push the raspberries about half way down into the cake so they are dispersed throughout the loaf. Smooth over the top and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 50 mins or until the top is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Step 8: To make the hibiscus syrup, add the hibiscus flowers to the boiling water and leave to steep for 10-15 mins.

Step 9: Drain the hibiscus water into a small saucepan and add the sugar. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and a syrup formed.

Step 10: To make the hibiscus cream cheese icing, mix together the cream cheese, yogurt and lemon zest until combined. Add the hibiscus syrup a little at a time until the desired consistency and taste is achieved (you don’t want it to be too runny).

Step 11: To assemble the cake. When the cake is cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10mins before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool further.

Step 12: While the cake is still warm, poke holes in the top with a skewer and pour the warm hibiscus syrup over the top.

Step 13: When the cake has cooled completely, cover with the icing and decorate as you see fit! I used candied hibiscus flowers, pistachio praline crumb and thyme flowers. Some fresh raspberries would work equally well!

Storage: Due to the cream cheese icing this cake needs to be stored in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving and consume within 1-2 days.

Vegan Banana Bread with Miso Caramel

Banana bread is a firm favourite in our house, delicious for a lunchbox or teatime treat and also a great way to use up those overripe bananas! For everyday family baking I prefer to opt for this healthier version over traditional banana bread recipes, which are often laden with sugar.  Made with spelt flour, vegan and free from refined sugar, it is not too sweet and comes with a little less guilt….just what is needed in January!

This bread can be enjoyed on it’s own but I discovered a recipe for vegan caramel on Gather and Feast  and thought that it would be a lovely addition. The vegan caramel was delicious, with the coconut sugar adding a toffee-like flavour. Obviously in an experimental mood, I decided to try adding miso to the caramel as an alternative to sea salt to counteract sweetness. I first came across using miso in sweet dishes after seeing Nigella Lawson‘s miso ice-cream recipe in her book Simply Nigella. Having fallen in love with Japan and its cuisine on a family trip there last year, I jumped at the chance to extend my use of Japanese ingredients to  my baking.  If you don’t regularly use miso however, feel free to add a pinch of sea salt to the recipe for the same effect! For a final flourish I topped with toasted pecans….enjoy!

Vegan Banana Bread with Miso Caramel

Ingredients for the Banana Bread:

  • 250g wholemeal or plain spelt flour (or you can use regular flour)
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 80ml milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 2tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 120ml maple syrup
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 large ripe bananas

Ingredients for the Miso Caramel:

  • 35g coconut sugar
  • 15g coconut oil
  • 80g coconut cream
  • 1tsp white miso paste
  • handful of toasted pecans, chopped

Step 1: To make the banana bread, preheat the oven to 180°C/350F.  Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Step 2: Place the bananas in an oven proof dish and roast in the oven for 10-15 mins while you are preparing the other ingredients. The roasting increases the sweetness and flavour of the bananas but if you don’t have time for this simply mash the bananas as they are.

Step 3: Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl

Step 4: In a separate bowl, mix the milk, vanilla bean paste, maple syrup and lemon juice.

Step 5: Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Add the roasted/mashed banana and mix again.

Step 6: Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 mins.

Step 7: To make the miso caramel, place the coconut sugar, coconut oil and coconut cream into a small saucepan. Heat gently until ingredients are combined. Continue to heat for approximately 5 mins until the caramel has thickened enough such that it begins to coat the back of a spoon.

Step 8: When cooked, remove the banana bread from the oven and place on a wire rack. Using a skewer, pierce several holes along the top of the banana bread. While the bread is still warm, pour over the caramel sauce. (If sauce has cooled and thickened too much, either add a little boiling water or heat again gently). Top with chopped toasted pecans.

Chocolate Gingerbread Mini Bundts with Irish Whiskey Orange Caramel Glaze

 

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As many know I am a huge fan of mini bundt cakes. Often requiring little in the way of adornment they are the perfect individual treat for guests. I wanted to make a festive version and this Chocolate Gingerbread cake recipe is deliciously light and fluffy so not too heavy for a Christmas dessert. Adapted from a recipe by Supergolden Bakes, I have paired it with an Irish Whiskey Orange Caramel glaze for a little extra indulgence!

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The recipe makes 10 mini bundt cakes but if you prefer to make one large cake, double the quantities for a large bundt tin and increase the baking time to 40-45 mins. The caramel recipe makes more than is needed but store any leftover in a clean jar in the fridge and feel free to pour over ice-cream, cakes and desserts over the festive season!

Chocolate Gingerbread Mini Bundt Cakes with Irish Whiskey Orange Caramel Glaze

Ingredients for the chocolate gingerbread bundt cakes:

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 75 soft brown sugar
  • 60g self-raising flour
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 2 medium eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tbsp black treacle
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

Ingredients for the Irish Whiskey Orange Caramel:

  • 75ml cream
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g cold butter, cubed
  • 2tbsp Irish (or other) whiskey
  • finely grated zest 1 medium orange

Step 1: To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/315F.  .

Step 2: Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water and leave to cool.

Step 3: Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.

Step 4: In the meantime whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside

Step 5: Beat the egg yolks into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.

Step 6: Add the cooled melted chocolate and treacle and beat until combined.

Step 7: Fold in the flour, ground almonds, spices and bicarbonate of soda.

Step 8: Add a spoonful of egg whites to the mixture and fold in gently with a metal spoon before folding in the remainder of the egg whites

Step 9: Divide the batter between 10 silicone mini bundt moulds. Place on a tray in the oven and bake for approximately 15 mins or until top is springy to the touch. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 15mins before carefully turning out of the moulds.

Step 10: To make the caramel sauce, heat the cream gently in a saucepan.

Step 11: Put the sugar in a larger saucepan and heat on medium heat until the sugar starts to dissolve. Swirl to ensure it heats evenly.

Step 12: When all the sugar has dissolved add in the butter a cube at a time and stir until smooth.

Step 13: Slowly pour in the cream and stir again until smooth.

Step 14: Finally add the whiskey and orange zest and stir.

Step 15: While caramel sauce is still runny, pour over the mini bundt cakes. The cakes taste best warm but to my family taste testers they were also equally delicious cold!

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Vegan Chocolate Pistachio Cake with Raspberries

My children love a family birthday and never let one pass without having candles on a cake! With my birthday falling just a few days after Easter this year I decided to bake a cake which was a bit more wholesome after the chocolate-laden weekend my children had experienced the week before. This cake is gluten, dairy and refined-sugar free. The natural sweetness of the banana and syrup satisfied the desire for a treat while the dense nutty texture made a small slice sufficiently filling. Although this recipe is for a tiny 5″ cake it easily serves 8-10 deliciously rich slices. This was deemed a winner by my children, so much so that it was gone before I got to take a photo of a cut slice! (problems of a food blogger!).

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Vegan Chocolate Pistachio Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberries

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g shelled pistachios
  • 25g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • Sea salt
  • 2 flax eggs: 2tbsp ground flaxseed and  6tbsp of water (or two large eggs if not vegan)
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 80ml melted coconut oil or rapeseed oil
  • 120ml maple or other syrup
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the chocolate ganache:

  • 125ml full fat coconut milk (you can use more or less milk depending on whether you prefer a softer or stiffer ganache)
  • 275g dark chocolate (dairy-free if vegan)

Step 1: To make the cake, preheat the oven to 150°C/315F.  Grease and line two 5” cake tins

Step 2: Make the flax eggs by combining ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl. Set aside for 5mins to thicken.

Step 3: Put the pistachios in a food processor and blend to a fine powder.

Step 4: Put the ground almonds, ground pistachios, cocoa powder, baking powder and a pinch of sea salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Step 5: In a separate bowl mix together the flax eggs, mashed banana, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

Step 6: Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 20-30mins until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Step 6: To make the chocolate ganache, heat the coconut milk and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Place mixture in the fridge for 30mins-1hour until chilled and firm. Scoop into mixing bowl and beat on high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.

Step 8: To assemble the cake, level the cakes. Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread some of the whipped ganache over the cake and cover with fresh raspberries. Place the second cake layer on top and repeat. Simple but oh so delicious!

Earl Grey, Lemon and Lavender Cake

 

Earl Grey Tea is a black tea blend flavoured with bergamot orange. Its citrusy aroma naturally lends itself to flavouring cakes and confectionary and it pairs well with floral accents such as lavender. I have always been wary of using lavender as a cake flavour, too much and it can be reminiscent of soap which is never pleasant to eat! However this recipe is the perfect combination. The earl grey-infused milk adds fragrant moistness to the cake and pairs beautifully with subtle lavender icing and a contrasting tangy lemon curd.  This cake was a winner when taste tested by my family, so much so that I plan to add it to our wedding and celebration cake menu, perfect for something a little different!

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Earl Grey, Lemon and Lavender Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 250ml whole milk
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 360g plain flour
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground Earl Grey tea leaves
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 medium eggs

Ingredients for the lemon curd:

  • 75g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Juice and zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk

Ingredients for the lavender buttercream:

  • 60ml milk
  • 1 tsp culinary lavender flowers
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 450g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Purple food colour (optional)
  • Lavender flowers to decorate (optional)

Step 1: To make the cake, preheat the oven to 150°C/315F.  Grease and line two 6” cake tins (or for a shallower 2-layer cake use two 8” cake tins).

Step 2: Place the milk in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the tea bags. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for around 30mins. Remove the teabags, squeezing out any excess liquid. Measure the remaining milk and ensure that there is 250ml. If it has reduced slightly add more milk to bring it up to 250ml.

Step 3: Cream together the butter, vanilla paste and sugar by hand or in a mixer.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, ground tea leaves and salt.

Step 4: Pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with a third of the milk each time and mixing gently after each addition.

Step 5: Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for approximately 40-45mins until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tins for 10-15mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 6: To make the lemon curd, melt the butter with the sugar, lemon zest and juice in a small pan over a low heat. Beat together the eggs and the egg yolk in a bowl and add to the lemon mixture. Stir gently over a low heat until the mixture has cooled enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and pour into a sterilised jam jar. Leave to cool and store in the refrigerator until needed. Any leftover curd will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Step 7: To make the lavender icing, place the milk and lavender flowers in a small saucepan over a low heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat and leave to infuse until cool. Beat together the butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (approx. 10mins). Strain the lavender from the milk, add the milk to the buttercream and beat again. Add a few drops of purple food colour if desired.

Step 8: To assemble the cake, level the cakes and cut each cake in two to create 4 layers (if an 8” cake simply sandwich the two layers together as follows). Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of the layer and fill the centre with buttercream to a shallower depth than the ring. Place some lemon curd in the centre and spread around the layer keeping it inside the piped ring. Repeat with two more layers and top with the final cake layer. Spread the top with icing and sprinkle with lavender flowers if desired.

Dark Chocolate Tonka Bean Cake with Raspberry Glaze

Bundt cakes are my go-to style for beautiful looking cakes for gatherings of family and friends when short on time. With a little bit of baking and a drizzle of icing you have something that looks amazing and easily forms a centrepiece for any table.

This Dark Chocolate Tonka Bean cake with Raspberry glaze is a new bundt cake favourite! I recently came across Tonka bean whilst browsing one of Dublin’s many fine delis. It comes from Brazil and has a fruity and somewhat spicy flavour. Used in a similar way to vanilla, a small amount grated into cakes, cupcakes or macarons lends a subtle flavour. Indeed if you are unable to find Tonka bean simply substitute with vanilla in this recipe.

This chocolate cake is an adaptation of a beautifully moist chocolate cake recipe which I regularly use for our wedding and celebration cakes. It hence also works well baked in a normal tin and layered with your favourite buttercream. For this bundt cake I finished it with a raspberry glaze for a sharp colour and flavour contrast!

Happy Baking!

Dark Chocolate Tonka Bean and Raspberry

 

Dark Chocolate Tonka Bean Bundt Cake with Raspberry Glaze

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 200g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 160ml natural or greek yogurt
  • 55g good quality cocoa powder
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 3 medium free-range eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tonka bean finely grated

Ingredients for the raspberry glaze:

  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2tsp freeze dried raspberry powder (or if unavailable use raspberry juice instead of the water below)
  • 50-75ml warm water

Step 1: To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/320F/gas mark 3. Grease a 2.4l bundt tin very well with butter.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.

Step 3: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and stir to melt.  Remove from heat and sift in cocoa powder. Add yogurt and 80ml hot water and stir to a smooth paste.

Step 4: Meanwhile, beat together the butter, sugar and tonka bean until light and fluffy.

Step 5: Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Step 6: Add chocolate paste and stir to combine.

Step 7: Finally stir in flour mixture taking care not to overmix.

Step 8: Pour the mixture into the bundt tin and bake for 40-45 mins until cake is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Step 9: Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 30 mins before gently turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 10: To make the raspberry glaze, dissolve the raspberry powder in the water (or use raspberry juice) to give the desired colour and flavour. Add to the icing sugar to give a thick but runny consistency. Spoon over the cake allowing it to drip down the sides.

Clementine Cake with Star Anise and Cinnamon, Cranberry Curd Meringue Buttercream and Pistachio

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With Christmas around the corner we are inundated with images and recipes for all sorts of delicious  baking so I thought I would add to the mix with this seasonal spiced Clementine Cake with Cranberry.  I think it looks so beautiful with the subtle orange and pink tones from the clementines and cranberries further contrasted with some green pistachio macarons! It has a lovely moist texture and paired with the silky meringue buttercream, would make a lovely light alternative to some traditionally heavier seasonal cakes.

The recipe has quite a few components and in its entirety is aimed at the experienced baker, but for the novice baker please don’t let this put you off! The cake itself is so easy to make and would look fabulous simply sandwiched together with the icing and decorated with a smattering of cranberries and pistachios, obviating the need to attempt to make notoriously difficult macarons! Furthermore, should you wish for a simpler buttercream recipe, simply add some of the cranberry curd to this buttercream.

Clementine Cake with Star Anise and Cinnamon, Cranberry Curd Meringue Buttercream and Pistachio Macarons

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 3 clementines
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 225g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon

Ingredients for the cranberry curd:

  • 225g cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 140g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 3 egg yolks (keep the whites for your macarons)
  • 1 egg
  • 60g unsalted butter

Ingredients for the cranberry swiss meringue buttercream:

  • 150g egg white (can be from a carton)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 340g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3-4 tbsp cranberry curd to taste
  • pinch salt

Ingredients for the Pistachio Macarons

  • 65g icing sugar
  • 45g ground almonds
  • 20g shelled pistachios
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 50g aged egg white (approx two egg whites)
  • Green paste food colour

Step 1: To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/320F/gas mark 3. Grease and line two 6″ round cake tins.

Step 2: Place the whole clementines (including skin) in a saucepan with the star anise and cinnamon stick, cover with boiling water and simmer for approx 20 mins until skins are soft. Leave to cool slightly and infuse. Remove clementines from the water, cut in half, remove any pips and then process in a food processor until pulpy.

Step 3: Add the remaining cake ingredients to the clementines in the food processor and process until smooth and well mixed. Avoid overmixing.

Step 4: Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 30-40 mins until cake is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 5: To make the pistachio macarons, process the icing sugar, ground almonds and pistachios in a processor until fine. Sieve into a clean bowl and discard any larger particles.

Step 6: Wipe the inside of a metal bowl and an electric handheld whisk with some lemon juice and paper towel to remove any traces of grease. Weigh the egg white into the bowl and whisk on low speed until foamy. Increase speed and whisk until you see trails in the egg white. Add the caster sugar in thirds, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until just before stiff peaks form. Add desired amount of green food colouring before continuing to whisk to stiff peaks.

Step 7: Add half the almond mixture to the egg white and fold in before adding the remaining half. Gently fold the mixture (it’s called macronage) to remove some of the air until it has a flow and consistency of lava.

Step 8: Pour into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Fix some baking paper onto a tray with a dot of the mixture (or use a silicone baking mat) and pipe rounds. You should get approx 30 macaron shells. Bang tray firmly on the counter to remove any excess air bubbles. Leave to form a ‘skin’, this takes approx 30mins depending on humidity. To test for this simply lightly touch the top of one of the macarons and check that your finger comes away clean. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 160°C .

Step 9: Bake macarons for 14-16mins turning the tray around half-way through. The macarons are cooked when you can lightly a shell and the top doesn’t move from the feet. Leave to cool on the tray before removing.

Step 10: To make the cranberry curd, place cranberries and water in a saucepan, cover and heat until cranberries have burst and liquid bubbles. Pour through a sieve into a clean bowl and press through cranberry pulp. Return the pulp to the saucepan and stir in sugar to dissolve. Add the lemon and orange zest if  and allow to cool slightly.

Step 11: Whisk the egg yolks and whole egg together and pour into the cranberry mixture, whisking until combined. Stir over a medium heat using a wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened and easily coats the back of a spoon (approx. 8-10mins). Pour into sterilised jars and place in the fridge once cool to set. This will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge to use any leftovers as you see fit!

Step 12: To make the cranberry swiss meringue buttercream, wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice. Add egg whites and sugar and place over a pan of simmering water whisking constantly until it reaches 160°F. If you do not have a sugar thermometer heat until sugar has completely dissolved and mixture is hot.

Step 13: Place the bowl on an electric stand mixer and whisk until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch, approx 10mins. Change to a paddle attachment. Slowly add the butter in cubes one at a time until incorporated. Continue to beat until it has reached a smooth silky texture. Add cranberry curd and mix to combine. If buttercream is too runny place in the fridge to firm up slightly before remixing.

Step14: To assemble the cake, level each cake using a cake leveller or sharp knife. Cut each cake in two so you have four cake layers. Place the base of the first cake on a cake card (or a cake stand or plate) and using a piping bag cover with the buttercream icing. Smooth the icing with a palette knife. Add the second layer and repeat, finishing with the inverted base of the second cake.  Before coating the outside of the cake, place in fridge to firm up slightly first. Crumb coat the cake by spreading a small amount of buttercream over the cake and scraping off any excess before refrigerating again until firm. Now feel free to ice in your favourite texture, rough, smooth, patterned! I have finished with a smooth buttercream. For this I placed the worked on the sides of the cake first, adding buttercream so that it was up over the top of the cake, scraping with a metal scraper, refrigerating until firm before repeating the process until perfectly smooth. For the top, use a palette knife to level the buttercream at the edge before filling in the centre.

Step 15: Fill the pistachio macarons with some of the buttercream (or your preferred buttercream) and fix on the cake with a dot of buttercream. I decorated with some pistachios and sugared cranberries but feel free to get creative!