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Carrot Cardamom Loaf Cake with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese Icing

I have always loved carrot cake (I even had it as one tier of our wedding cake!). I tend to nowadays veer towards flavours that are new and interesting but there are times when the classics are called for and comforting. With the global shutdown for coronavirus currently confining us to our homes and lending an air of anxiety to our daily lives, I decided to make a classic carrot loaf cake (with a twist of course!) for an Easter treat.

The recipe is based on standard carrot loaves, using oil instead of butter and brown sugar for depth of flavour. I used half plain and half wholemeal flour, but all plain flour will work too. I also used a mix of dark soft brown sugar and caster sugar, but for this type of rustic cake I think it is fine to play fast and loose with whatever sugar you have (espeically given the current shopping restrictions too!).  Cinnamon and mixed spice are typical additions to carrot cake, but I chose to add some cardamom too for an extra layer of flavour.

Burnt honey was something I came across in my browsing of recipes and was a bit of a revelation! If you have a really good honey perhaps with citrus flavour this would work beautifully. I only had a standard honey in my cupboard which is perfectly fine too. The bicarbonate of soda aids in the caramelisation of the honey. The recipe makes extra honey but use this can be kept and used in any recipe or situation you use honey. If you don’t want to make burnt honey a little plain honey or as an alternative some citrus zest would also work well in the icing.

Happy Baking!

Suzanne x

 

Carrot Cardamom Loaf Cake with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • 150ml rapeseed oil (or other oil), plus extra for greasing
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 100g dark soft brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 300g grated carrot
  • 90g plain flour
  • 90g wholemeal flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp mixed spice

Ingredients for Burnt honey:

  • 120ml honey
  • 1/8 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 30mls water

For the Cream Cheese Icing :

  • 50g butter
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 180g tub cream cheese
  • 3-4 tbsp burnt honey plus extra for drizzling

Method:

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/320F.  Grease a loaf tin with some oil and line with baking parchment.
  2. Place the grated carrot, rapeseed oil, eggs and sugars into a large bowl and whisk to combine. .
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the carrot mixture and stir well to combine.
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin.
  6. Bake for approx 60mins, until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
  7. Leave the tin to cool for 10mins before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool completely.
  8. To make the burnt honey, heat the honey in a small saucepan over a medium heat until it starts to bubble and turn a darker brown colour. Reduce heat to low and gently add they tiny amount of bicarbonate soda. Be careful as it will bubbble. Stir using a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add the water, stirring to combine. Set aside to cool.
  9. To make the icing, beat the butter and icing sugar together in a stand mixer. Add the cream cheese and beat again. Finally add burnt honey to taste.
  10. Once the cake is cool, spread with the icing and drizzle extra honey over the top.
  11. As this cake has a cream cheese icing store in the fridge.

 

 

Healthier Chocolate Beetroot Bundt with Orange Coconut Cream Ganache

It was my birthday this week (I’m an April fool!), and this year I had time to make cake. We are currently in a global shutdown to combat a coronavirus pandemic and it is an anxious time for everyone I think. We have to live day-by-day and hope that we can overcome it together. In the midst of all the gloom it is important to keep busy and do things you love…and that would include baking!

I chose to make this Chocolate Beetroot Bundt cake from a desire to maintain a nourishing and healthy diet at this time. While no cake is healthy, this one uses honey as a sweetener, rapeseed oil in place of butter and of course has one of your 5-a-day in the form of nutritious beetroot! It is also dairy-free, making it suitable for those with dairy intolerances or dietary preferences.

The recipe is adapted from one by Green Kitchen Stories, who write wonderful vegetarian cookbooks. I have made changes to their Decadent Beetroot Chocolate cake by substituting some flour for wholemeal, adding in ground almonds for added moisture and increasing the chocolate content. I also decided to go all-out (it was my birthday after all!) and add a vegan Chocolate Orange Ganache icing, which really makes the cake! I sometimes pair beetroot with orange in a salad and I think the flavour combination works well here too. I love vegan ganache (perhaps more so than regular ganache actually!), made with coconut cream it is equally as rich as that made with dairy cream but has added flavour. Any leftover could be rolled into delicious vegan truffles.

As shopping and stock availability is not always easy in the current global shutdown, feel free to make variations with whatever you have available. If you don’t have a bundt tin, this recipe would also works well in an 8″ or 9″ round cake tin. I have used a mix of wholemeal and plain flour but if the flour shortage seen in supermarkets here is widespread, feel free to use any flour you have, eg. self-raising (omit the baking powder), or gluten-free or other flour alternatives.  Ground almonds are also a non-essential element. The original recipe calls for 70% dark chocolate but I only had 54.5% available so clearly either will work.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, it is an easy one to make so kids can be roped in too. And perhaps a nice nourishing choice for an Easter treat too!

Happy baking!

Suzanne x

Chocolate Beetroot Bundt Cake with Orange Coconut Cream Ganache

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • 150ml rapeseed oil (olive would work too), plus extra for greasing
  • 120ml honey
  • 75g dark chocolate (70% best but I used 54.5%)
  • 250g grated raw red beetroot
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 100g wholemeal plain flour
  • 100g plain flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 75g good quality cocoa powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt

Ingredients for Ganache:

  • 150g coconut cream (can take cream settled at top of tin of coconut milk or use a small tin coconut cream)
  • 150g 54.5% dark chocolate
  • Grated zest of 1 small orange

For decoration (optional):

  • Whatever you have available! I used dried rose petals, other dried flowers, toasted nuts, sliced fruits etc would also work well.

Method:

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/320F.  Grease a 20cm bundt pan with oil. I use a silicone bundt mould which is best to avoid sticking. If using a metal one it may be advisable to also sprinkle with flour to avoid sticking. If using a cake tin, grease and line.
  2. Heat the rapeseed oil, honey and dark chocolate together on a low heat in a medium sized pan.
  3. Add the grated beetroot, beaten eggs and vanilla and stir to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Add the ground almonds.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the chocolate beetroot mixture and stir well to combine.
  6. Pour the mixture into your chosen cake tin.
  7. Bake for 25-35mins, until the top is cracked and a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool for 10mins before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool completely.
  9. To make the ganache, place the chocolate and coconut cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir to melt chocolate. Add the orange zest and stir. Pour over the cooled bundt cake. Decorate as you wish.
  10. Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Cranberry and Chestnut Layer Cake Recipe

I am always a little indecisive about what to make for a Christmas dessert, but generally come to the conclusion that a centrepiece cake can never go amiss!  I have hence been experimenting with some traditional seasonal flavours and am delighted with this resulting Chocolate Chestnut and Cranberry layer cake recipe.

The chocolate cake is light and moist and is adapted slightly from a recipe in Tessa Huffs fabulous cake book, Layered. The lightness of this chocolate cake gives the perfect balance to the rich bitterness of the cranberry ganache and the sweetness of the chestnut meringue buttercream.

The cranberry ganache is adapted from a macaron filling recipe by patissier Eddy Van Damme. It is deliciously decadent with a fabulously rich colour. You may not need to use all of this ganache but leftover can be used to fill macarons or frozen for use in a future bake. It would pair well with other flavours too such as cranberry or gingerbread.

For the chestnut puree in the swiss meringue buttercream I used the French brand Clement Faugier but others are available in good supermarkets or delis. Leftover puree can be used in a variety of recipes such as with meringues in the classic Mont Blanc dessert, added to cakes or brownies, or made into chocolate chestnut truffles which would actually be a lovely decoration and accompaniment for this cake. I didn’t have time to do this but there are recipes available online.

The cake is rich and decadent and will hence easily serve a crowd of 10-12..just what is needed for the festive season! The cake itself will keep well for 4-5 days wrapped in tightly cling film.  Once filled and iced eat within 2-3 days. I don’t think this will be a problem!

Happy baking!

Suzanne x

Chocolate Cranberry and Chestnut Cake Recipe

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 235g plain flour
  • 70g best quality cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120ml rapeseed or other flavourless oil
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 180ml whole milk
  • 240ml strong coffee

Ingredients for Cranberry Ganache:

  • 180g fresh cranberries
  • 120g cream
  • 120g sugar
  • 120g 54.5% dark belgian chocolate

Ingredients for the  Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

  • 150g fresh egg whites (about 5 eggs)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 240g unsalted butter, cool but not cold
  • 4-5 tbsp tinned sweetened chestnut puree (or more to taste)
  • pinch salt

For decoration (optional):

  • Fresh cherries or other seasonal fruits

Method:

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/320F.  Grease three 7″ round cake tins and line with baking parchment.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
  3. Beat the oil and sugar together in a stand mixer for a few mins until pale. Add the eggs and beat again until combined.
  4. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk. Scrape down the bowl and mix again to combine.
  5. Finally with the mixer on low add the coffee and mix until just combined.
  6. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins until the top of the cakes are firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cake from the tin after 10-15mins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. To make the cranberry ganache: Put the cranberries, cream and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender. Strain back into the pan to remove skin and seeds of the cranberries.
  9. Put the chocolate callets into a bowl.
  10. Bring the cranberry cream mixture back to the boil and then pour over the chocolate mixture. Leave for a few mins to allow the chocolate to melt before stirring to achieve a smooth ganache. Set aside to cool and thicken.
  11. To make the icing: Clean the bowl and whisk of an electric mixer with a squeeze of lemon juice and dry with paper towel to remove any traces of grease.
  12. Place the egg white and sugar into the bowl and place over a pot of simmering water, whisking constantly, until the temperature reaches 160°F on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  13. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and using the whisk attachment whisk until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch.
  14. Switch to paddle attachment and with mixer on low speed add the butter a cube at a time, mixing until incorporated after each addition. If the mixture curdles continue to mix until it comes back together. Add the chestnut puree and salt and mix to combine.
  15. If the buttercream is too runny, refrigerate until firmer and mix again before using.
  16. To assemble the cake, trim the tops of the cooled cakes to level. Fix one cake layer to a cake card or directly onto a cake stand using a small bit of buttercream. Pipe a layer of cranberry ganache on top followed by a layer of the buttercream, smoothing each with a palette knife. Repeat with a second cake layer and another layer of ganache and buttercream. Top with the final cake layer. Refrigerate until firm.
  17. Once the cake has been chilled for at least 30 mins and is firm, crumb coat the cake in a thin layer of buttercream, scraping away any excess. Refrigerate again.
  18. Continue to add layers of buttercream, using a scraper to remove excess until the cake is covered in a smooth layer of buttercream icing.
  19. Decorate as you wish with gilded fruits, sugared cranberries, chocolate truffles or anything else that takes your fancy!

 

Almond Cake with Plum and Sweet Geranium Jam and Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I only recently discovered scented rose geranium as a baking ingredient, having bought some at our local farmer’s market. While not the pretties of leaves, it releases a wonderfully delicate rose scented flavour simply by rubbing  to release the oils. It can be used in sweet dishes in a variety of ways, for example by infusing sugar to use in baking and desserts in place of normal sugar, or in scented syrups or jams. It pairs well with citrus flavours, fruits and spices.  I choose to use my geranium in a jam with plums, which happened to be in season at the time of late Autumn. It is quite possibly the best jam I have ever made! While we have been using it on toast and scones for several weeks, I finally satisfied my original intention of using it as a cake filling by creating this delicious recipe for Almond Cake with Plum and Geranium Jam and Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

I chose to make this as a tray or sheet cake. I will tell no lies, I was in a bit of a rush and didn’t have the time to consider layering and icing in my usual way. And actually I quite like the informality of a tray cake; it is easy to cut and serve for a casual teatime treat! The large surface is a perfect canvas for decorative prettiness too!

The almond cake is particularly dense and moist, and is a classic pairing with the plum jam. The sweet geranium in the jam adds just the right amount of floral fragrance.  I used quite a few geranium leaves but feel free to adjust this flavour to your preference.  You could also try making the jam with geranium-infused sugar, rather than the chopped leaves I have used here, although this would take a little more forward-planning. I chose a vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream for a simple, light and complimentary flavour.

The quantities for the jam makes much more than you need, but store in sealed sterilised jars and use it in other bakes, or simply enjoy on your favourite toast, croissant or scone! If you can’t find geranium or seasonal plums, this cake and buttercream recipe works well with other similar fruity floral combinations, try shop bought raspberry jam with a little rosewater added for an even quicker but equally delicious cake.

Similarly the Swiss meringue buttercream makes more than required. However as this is a more labour-intensive buttercream than the straightforward recipe of mixing icing sugar and butter, I always go for the larger quantity and freeze leftover icing for my next bake. You can of course halve the quantities if you don’t envisage using it again in the foreseeable future.

I was delighted to donate this bake to my local community Crosscare cafe, which offers hot meals and a warm and friendly environment for those in need. Spread love with cake!

Happy baking!

Suzanne x

Almond Cake with Plum and Sweet Geranium Jam and Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 400g unsalted butter
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 100g plain flour
  • 250g ground almonds
  • Pinch salt
  • Few drops almond essence (optional)
  • 4-6tbsp milk

Ingredients for Plum Jam:

  • 900g plums (washed, dried, stoned and sliced)
  • 700g caster sugar
  • 5-6 large sweet geranium leaves, finely chopped
  • Juice one lemon

Ingredients for the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

  • 300g fresh egg whites (about 10 eggs)
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 680g unsalted butter, cool but not cold
  • seeds 1 vanilla pod
  • pinch salt
  • pink paste food colouring (optional)

For decoration (optional):

  • Sliced plums
  • Dried edible flower petals (rose and cornflower)
  • Toasted flaked almonds

Method:

  1. To make the jam, place the plums in a large pan with 250ml water. Cover, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20mins until the plums are soft.
  2. Remove the lid and add the sugar, sweet geranium and lemon juice. Simmer on a medium heat until the jam is reduced down and has reached setting point (you can test this by placing a spoonful on a cold plate in the fridge for a few minutes. It should form a skin when you push it with your finger).
  3. Remove from the heat and pour into clean sterilised jars and seal immediately. Leave to cool.
  4. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/320F.  Grease and line a 9″x 12″ baking tray that is approximately 1.5″ deep (or similar size) with baking parchment.
  5. Cream together the butter, sugar and almond essence in a mixer until pale.
  6. Sift together the flour and salt into another bowl.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time into the butter sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.
  8. Add in the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
  9. Add the ground almonds and mix again.
  10. Finally add milk and mix to achieve a dropping consistency.
  11. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-45 mins until the top of the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  12. Remove the cake from the tin after 10-15mins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  13. To make the icing: Clean the bowl and whisk of an electric mixer with a squeeze of lemon juice and dry with paper towel to remove any traces of grease.
  14. Place the egg white and sugar into the bowl and place over a pot of simmering water, whisking constantly, until the temperature reaches 160°F on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  15. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and using the whisk attachment whisk until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch.
  16. Switch to paddle attachment and with mixer on low speed add the butter a cube at a time, mixing until incorporated after each addition. If the mixture curdles continue to mix until it comes back together. Add the vanilla seeds and salt and food paste colouring as desired.
  17. If the buttercream is too runny, refrigerate until firmer and mix again before using.
  18. To assemble the cake, when cool cover the cake generously with plum jam followed by a thick layer of delicious buttercream. Scatter with plum slices, flaked almonds and dried flower petals. Serve with a cup of tea!