coffee and walnut cake

P1040045Coffee and walnut is one of my favourite combinations for cake. It’s often not received with as much enthusiasm as sponge or chocolate cake, but honestly, it’s great. Whether you like coffee or not, don’t rule out this cake. I managed to convince my flatmates and I hope this recipe will convince you too! This also works really well in a loaf tin, with lots of creamy coffee icing spread on top when cooled. Slice thinly width ways, and the loaf is perfect as a light afternoon treat!

Ingredients

  • 175g brown sugar (I used Demerara – don’t worry that it doesn’t become ‘pale’ and is a bit grainy – it’s delicious!)
  • 175g butter
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp strong black coffee granules mixed with 1 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp baking powder

for the icing:

1 tbsp strong coffee
½ tsp vanilla extract
115g butter
200g icing sugar

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. It won’t be as pale as usual – using Demerara sugar changes the colour of the butter. Instead, it’ll be a little grainy and a light brown colour, but it gives a sweeter taste and a lovely colour.
  3. In a smaller bowl, beat together the eggs. Add the eggs gradually to the butter and sugar mix, beating well with each addition. If it begins to curdle, add a little of the flour.
  4. Add the coffee one tablespoon at a time, stirring it throughout the mixture.
  5. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Fold gently with a wooden spoon, working in figures of eight.
  6. Divide the mixture between two lined baking tins, and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until risen and golden brown.
  7. Whilst the cake cooks, make the butter icing: whisk together the butter and icing sugar until fluffy. Be careful not to overwork the mixture, else it might split! Add the vanilla and coffee, and gently stir it through the icing. Cover, and refrigerate.
  8. Once the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for an hour.
  9. Then, spread half the icing in the middle of the cakes, and the remaining icing on the top of the cake. Decorate the top of the cake with sliced walnuts, spacing them around the edge of the cake. Serve with cups of tea!
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marble loaf

P1040048

If you’ve ever cut into a cake, and lamented that it was just a single boring colour, then this recipe is for you. Even if you haven’t wishedfor a double-colour cake, just sit there and think about if for a moment. Now imagine that the cake is two colours because one part is chocolate, and another is vanilla. Exactly. Genius, isn’t it?

Ingredients

  • 70g butter
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 115g self-raising flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tbsp cold milk
  • 55g plain chocolate and 1 tsp vanilla extract, to flavour each part of the cake!
  • 3 tbsps natural Greek yoghurt
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a loaf tin with baking paper or a baking paper case.
  2. Melt the chocolate using a bain-marie: in a small saucepan, bring water to the boil, then reduce the heat. Place a glass bowl over the water, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. In the bowl, place the chocolate and pour in the milk. The chocolate and milk melt because of the steam rising from the water in the saucepan.
  3. Once melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan, and remove the saucepan from the heat.
  4. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg, and beat in the Greek yoghurt. Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture, then fold lightly into the mixture.
  5. Spoon half the cake mixture into a separate bowl. In one bowl, stir in the melted chocolate. In the other, add the vanilla extract.
  6. Spoon a layer of the chocolate cake mix into the loaf tin, to form a ‘bottom layer’. Then, add a layer of vanilla mixture on top, swirling lightly with a spoon for a ‘marbled’ effect. Continue to layer the cake mixes until they run out, finishing with vanilla. They don’t have to be even!
  7. Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes, until well risen and cooked through.
  8. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

cherry and lemon cake

The first problem with my cherry cake was that all the cherries sunk to the bottom. Although the taste of the cake was pleasing – moist, and light – the lack of visibility of the cherries when I cut into the cake made it less than impressive. Looking further into this, it seemed that sinking cherries were a common problem with this Saturday tea-time cake. The solution however, seemed to be simple. Coating the cherries in flour before adding them to the mixture apparently reduces their density, and thus are significantly less likely to sink during the baking time – it must be said that having cherries visible in a slice gives presentation worthy of the taste!

The addition of lemon in this cake gives it a zesty freshness, that perfectly offsets the sweetness of the glace cherries. Furthermore, as an extra liquid component alongside the milk, the cake has an extra level of moistness. This cake isn’t difficult to make, but the timings for the oven can be a little hazy depending on the strength of your appliances! I cooked mine for an hour as was suggested by the recipe, and my top came out a little burnt – I was luckily able to slice off the top and the difference wasn’t too noticeable, but it is worthwhile noting that this cake needs to be monitored, if you don’t want a charred-cherry disaster!

Ingredients

  • 250g glace cherries, quartered or halved depending on size when whole
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • Zest and the juice of a lemon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Extra: 6 crushed sugar cubes for decoration before baking

Method

  1. Coat the cherries in one tablespoon of flour, taken from the 200g total. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until creamy and light in colour.
  2. Whisk the eggs, and add gradually to the creamed mixture, beating hard with each addition to introduce air and to ensure everything is evenly combined.
  3. Gradually sift the remaining flour into the creamed ingredients, folding each addition carefully in figure of eights with a metal spoon, taking care to keep the air within the cake mixture.
  4. Add the cherry mixture and fold in evenly, again ensuring the air is not removed. Pour in the milk, and gently stir.
  5. Using a zester, introduce the zest of the lemon, and stir. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice from one half. Stir and taste – if it is not too lemony, add the second half. Be careful that the acidity of the lemon doesn’t curdle the ingredients!
  6. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and prepare a 20cm round cake tin by lining the base and sides with non-stick baking parchment. This might be made easier by greasing the edges first, so the parchment doesn’t fall away.
  7. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and, if using, sprinkle evenly with the crushed sugar cubes. Bake in the oven for an hour, or until it is risen and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin. When removed from the oven, allow to cool in the tin for fifteen minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.