Sunday, 31 January 2010

Giant English Madeleine

I apologise to readers if this post is coming up in random font sizes - I have no idea why it's doing this and have spent the past hour trying to correct it but blogger just won't play ball. If anyone has any ideas I'm all ears!

I had the need for something light and spongy this week. Browsing through my blog to see what delights I had previously created (what can I say? I’m a blog narcissist!) I had a hankering for some English Madeleines but how to make them fresh and new, I pondered. Then it hit me – what about the concept of a Madeleine but as a large sponge rather than a dainty, individual offering? Bingo. My cake needs were sated!

I’ve used a Victoria sponge recipe for the cake and tweaked the quantities to make one nice, deep 20 cm sponge rather than the shallower sandwich sponges you’d typically make with such a batter. It’s a very easy recipe to scale and, other than adjusting the cooking time marginally there’s nothing to worry about. The combination of soft sponge with sweet, fruity jam and then crispy coconut is heavenly. Comfort in cake form!

Brushing warm jam over a sponge and then rolling it in coconut is one of those kitchen tasks I could happily perform all day without getting bored. It’s so pleasing and looks so – somehow – cute when finished!

I had help with this one – the CCBF (Caked Crusader’s Boyfriend) helped with the jam and the coconut rolling. Also, I have an announcement: I will never refer to the CCBF again. Before you start picturing a coconut/jam fuelled tiff I should tell you that it’s because he proposed yesterday so I am promoting him to Mr CC from now on! Am I the luckiest girl on the planet? It certainly feels like it!

For the cake:
190g unsalted butter, at room temperature
165g caster sugar
3 eggs
60ml milk
225g self raising flour
Approx 100g Desiccated coconut
½ jar Seedless raspberry jam – you might use more (or less) depending on your jam needs.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
Line the base of a 20cm springform round tin with baking paper.
Start by making the cakes: Beat together the butter, sugar until light and fluffy.
Don’t skimp on this stage as this is when you get lots of lovely air into your sponge.
Beat in the eggs gradually, add some of the flour if it looks like it might curdle.
Beat in the milk.
Stir in the flour until the mixture is smooth and well combined.
Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out clean. Another good sign is if the sponge is just pulling away from the edge of the tin. Mine took nearer 40 minutes.
Leave to cool in the tins for about 20 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
You can make the sponge a day in advance and store in an airtight tin.
Melt some jam in a saucepan over a low heat. Don’t let it bubble.
Brush the jam over the sides of the sponge then roll in desiccated coconut.
Brush the remaining jam over the top of the sponge and sprinkle coconut over the top until there is a good even covering.
Decorate with glace cherries if you like but I didn’t bother.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Iron Cupcake London Challenge VIII – LOVE

Hopefully you have all marked 1st February in your diaries for Iron Cupcake London’s LOVE themed challenge and are either working on your recipes or ensuring that you will be hungry and in the mood for eating!

All the challenge details can be found here, along with the changes we’re making this month.

But what prizes are up for grabs, you ask? As we’ve split the competition into professional and amateur there will now only be prizes for the winner of each category.

The winner of the professional competition will win this gorgeously kitsch cupcake teapot:

The winner of the amateur competition will win this huge – and I mean huge – splendid cupcake cookie jar. It’s called a cookie jar but is big enough to store a wide variety of items:

The clock’s ticking but there’s still plenty of time to hone that tastebud-pleasing, vote-grabbing, prize-winning, recipe – see you Monday! As always, I'd be grateful for bakers to email and let me know they're planning on entering. Thanks.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sticky gingerbread cupcakes with ginger Swiss meringue buttercream

I fancied a really sticky intense gingerbread topped off with Swiss meringue buttercream but couldn’t find a recipe for it. Not sure why as the light whipped buttercream is the perfect companion to the rich, dark gingerbread. So I’ve come up with my own recipe – as they say, necessity is the mother of invention...and it couldn’t get much more necessary than this!

What prompted my need for ginger cupcakes was finding this in my local supermarket:

It’s ginger conserve i.e. jam made with stem ginger. I’ve never seen this before and impulsively bought a jar. It has large chunks of ginger in it and all I could think about was how to incorporate it into a cake. It’s funny because I think we all look to more high-end or exotic shops to intrigue us with products yet here this was sitting on a shelf in my local Co-Op! This is what it looks like straight from the jar:

Because of the large chunks of ginger I decided against stirring it into my Swiss meringue buttercream as I thought it might not sit well with the smooth texture. Instead I spooned some onto the cupcake...

... before piping on the frosting and this worked well. If you can’t find ginger conserve you can of course make these cupcakes without.

For those of you interested in seeing the cupcakes straight from the oven, here they are:

For the cupcake sponge:
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
70g soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon black treacle
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 eggs
1 ball of stem ginger, finely chopped
110g plain flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2-4 tablespoons milk

Optional: ginger conserve

Swiss meringue buttercream (optional):
4 egg whites
250g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Ginger extract (or you could use some syrup from a jar of stem ginger)


- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

- Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with paper cases.

- Beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well combined.

- Beat in the treacle, golden syrup and eggs. The mix will look curdled at this point.

- Stir in the chopped ginger.

- Beat in the flour, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda.

- Add milk gradually using just enough to loosen the batter to a soft dropping consistency.

- Spoon into the paper cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean. Mine took 15 minutes.

- Leave to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing the cupcakes from the pan and leaving to cool completely on the wire rack. Be gentle as they are very soft.

- Now make the Swiss meringue buttercream: Place the egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir pretty much constantly to prevent the egg from cooking.

- After 5-10 minutes, when the sugar has dissolved (when you cannot see any crystals on the back of the spoon), remove the bowl from the pan of simmering water and whisk until the meringue has puffed up and the mix is cool.

- - Add the butter and ginger extract to the meringue and whisk until the butter has been completely incorporated into the meringue. At first it will look a disaster – it will collapse and look curdled but don’t worry! Stop when the mixture is smooth, light and fluffy.

- If using, spread some ginger conserve over each cupcake. Don’t go right to the edges as it’s nice to have it covered by the buttercream as a surprise for the eater!

- Pipe the Swiss meringue buttercream on top of each cupcake.

- Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.

- Eat.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Advocaat cake

If you offer me a beverage of an alcoholic nature in December, nothing will please me more than the drink favoured by grannies across the UK – a snowball. What could be nicer, in the run up to Christmas, than drinking a glass of cold, fizzy, alcoholic custard? But what do you do with the leftover Advocaat come January, when the thought of drinking a snowball won’t appeal for another 11 months? You bake a cake...I find this is the answer to most of life’s great questions.

This cake is a light sponge flavoured with a generous slug of Advocaat. It tastes custardy and I got a very subtle hint of alcohol, but in truth, none of the other eaters did.

Any cake containing so much Advocaat and then a further 5 eggs could never claim to be healthy but – if it helps assuage your guilt – there’s no butter. Wahoo! Diet cake!!!! A bit of the Advocaat seemed to settle at the bottom of the cake, as you'll see in the next picture. Not sure why that happened but it didn't spoil either the taste or texture so don't worry if it happens to you:

This is a cracking cake to enjoy with a cup of tea, but I think you could also jazz it up with some cream and maybe some fruit for a dessert. Either way, I think you’ll like it!

5 eggs
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250ml vegetable oil
250ml Advocaat (I used Warninks)
125g plain flour
125g cornflour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder


- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

- Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper – ideally use an all-in-one liner as the batter is extremely runny.

- Whisk together the eggs, icing sugar and vanilla until they have combined and thickened slightly.

- Keeping the whisk running, gradually add the oil and Advocaat.

- Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined and there are no lumps.

- Pour (it will be very runny) into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out cleanly. Mine took just over the hour – but only just.

- Leave to cool in the tin until you can safely handle to remove. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

- Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.

- Eat.

Things that have pleased me greatly this week....

Thing 1

My new best friends – the lovely ladies at - heard that the CCD and CCU (Caked Crusader’s Da and Uncle) were celebrating a landmark birthday later this year and sent me these gorgeous tins to help me make their birthday cake. See if you can guess how old they’ll be?

I’ll post further updates when I’ve used the tins in April. Thanks Discountcoder ladies; you’ve made my day! Incidentally, if you’re looking to make purchases online or in shops why not check out their website and see if you can save some money? It only takes a second!

Thing 2

I do love a bargain but hate sales shopping. However, I found myself in Selfridges this weekend and couldn’t believe the bargain I came across (purely by chance). This gorgeous Marc Jacobs for Waterford Crystal bowl should cost £195. Now that’s a lot of money for a bowl – even if it is lovely. The price I paid? £39. I am now planning which trifle to make in it!

Thing 3

Those who know me know that I love cake tins and successful shopping trips. I also love dogs so this picture really made me laugh. I know just how he feels!

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more
dog and puppy pictures

It's been a good week!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Iron Cupcake London Challenge VIII – Love

In response to feedback we are making some changes this month. To make these easier to spot they appear in red. We want to keep this event open to as many eaters as possible and therefore respectfully ask that people only take the cupcakes that they (and their friends) can manage to eat. I’m sure you’ll all agree that our fab bakers go to a lot of effort and it’s a shame if that effort is not respected. Hopefully, this will sort out any issues – if it doesn’t we might have to look at ticketing the event with a finite number of places for eaters…but we really don’t want to have to do this as we don’t want Londoners to be starved of cupcakes! Thank you in advance for your kindness and understanding!

Requirements: Make a minimum of 18 cupcakes that interpret the theme of LOVE in any way you wish – if you can make more please do…the more you make, the more people can taste your delicious creation (and vote for you!) Please feel free to enter as many types of cupcake as you wish, I only ask that you have at least 18 of each.
Please cut at least 6 of your cupcakes in half, so that smaller tables can still sample everything.

Voting: Bakers and Judges will vote individually, each table of eaters will also have a vote too.

Bakers - As usual, please let me know if you plan to enter the competition so we can gauge numbers. We are now going to split the competition in two – one category for professionals*, one for amateurs**. Please indicate which competition you are entering.
*You are a professional entrant if you have a cupcake business, if you regularly sell cupcakes for profit (i.e. not charitable events or fetes) or you are a professionally trained chef/baker.
**You are an amateur entrant if you have, once or twice, taken a small commission from friends or family for a wedding etc and have received a fee to cover your costs or are a home/recreational baker.

Event details:

Monday 1st February 2010

6.00pm – 9.00pm

Venue – The Cuban Bar, Citypoint, One Ropemaker Street, EC2Y 9AYFor a map click here
Although the address is Ropemaker Street it’s actually on the Citypoint plaza. Just behind the Moorgate tube station entrance that’s in the row of shops including HMV, Hotel Chocolat, Eat and Clinton Cards, you’ll see a very tall building. That’s the Citypoint Tower. Head towards it and you’ll see a paved plaza-type area. Near the base of the tower you will see a small newsagent kiosk and a Costa, to the left of these (if looking at the tower) are The Rack & Tenter, then Prets. Head towards Prets into a covered walkway at the base of City point. This is where the Cuban bar is. We’ll be in the basement.

Entry fee for eaters: £5 (Entry fee includes tea or coffee). Bakers enter for FREE!

Timetable of events:

6.00-6.45pm – Entries are labelled and plated up

6.45 onwards – Eating and voting commences

Incidentally, The Caked Crusader and, consequently, ICL are now on Facebook and Twitter. Why not befriend Samantha Cake on Facebook – it’s me!!!! And then become a fan of the Caked Crusader page. We will be using this to post news of upcoming events, have discussions, in fact anything fun involving cake. To make it even easier here’s a link. On Twitter you can find me as CakedCrusader. So there’s no excuse not to stay in touch.

As the event expands it has become necessary for us to set out some disclaimers relating to the event namely that, as we are hosts of the event and don’t actually oversee any of the baking, we take people at their word as to the ingredients of the cupcakes and the environment in which they are prepared. It is unlikely that any entries are prepared in nut-free kitchens and anyone with allergies or intolerances should bear that in mind. Similarly, if an entrant tells us that an entry is vegan-friendly we believe them – feel free to chat to them on the night before sampling if you have any concerns. Your entry fee entitles you to free tea and coffee. Of course you can also sample all the cupcakes, for which we accept no liability.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Lime syrup buttermilk cake

Lime isn’t something I’ve used in my baking before, and I don’t know why as I love it. It has a fruity, citrus zing to it but without the sour harshness of lemon. I'd bought a bag of limes for Christmas in case I needed them for cocktails....I buy a bag of limes every Christmas for this purpose and always end up throwing them away - but not this time! I'm not sure why I think the success of Christmas hinges on me having a bag of limes in my fridge, but it does.

I thought this cake was perfect for that post Christmas and New Year “I need to eat more healthily but can’t think of a life without cake” period that lasts about 2 weeks (ok, ok – it lasts about 2 minutes).

Admittedly, the cake isn’t stunning to look at but the syrup makes it juicy and soft and comforting – perfect for this horrid cold snap we’re enduring. Syrup cakes get better and better with time as the flavour of the syrup is absorbed into the sponge and matures.

If you want to picture this cake imagine a lemon drizzle cake made with lime and more syrup than you’d use for a lemon drizzle. It has a delicate, refreshing flavour and a beautifully sticky texture that requires a cake fork rather than fingers! In texture, it’s almost akin to a baked cheesecake – it has that dense yet soft and moist sponginess.

When you start brushing the hot syrup over the hot cake you will think you have far too much for it ever to be absorbed. Persevere because it will all get used!

For the cake:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
220g caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
300g self raising flour
250ml buttermilk

For the syrup:
80ml lime juice (approx 3 limes, depending on size and juiciness)
165g caster sugar
60ml water


- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

- Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper – ideally use an all-in-one liner as then no syrup will escape.

- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

- Gradually beat in the egg yolks.

- Beat in half the flour, followed by half the buttermilk, then the remaining flour and remaining buttermilk.

- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until the soft peak stage.

- Fold the egg white into the cake batter in two stages, to ensure it is incorporated fully.

- Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, level the surface, and bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Mine took 1 hour 5 minutes.

- As soon as the cake comes out of the oven make the syrup: place all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. You can tell this by looking at the back of the spoon – if there are any crystals it hasn’t dissolved.

- Stop stirring and bring the syrup up to the boil.

- Remove from the heat and brush over the hot cake. Do this gently and gradually so the syrup is absorbed. I found the syrup came up the edge of the cake liner (this is why it’s a good idea to use an all-in-one) but absorbed as the cake cooled.

- Serve at room temperature with spooning cream.

- Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.

- Eat.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Jersey black butter cheesecake

I have noticed that, pleased though people may be to see you when you go visiting, they are always more pleased if you arrive with cheesecake! This was an awesome cheesecake!

Let’s start with a bit about Jersey black butter: It’s not black and it’s not butter but it is from Jersey (one out of three’s not bad!). I brought this jar back from a working trip to the island and wondered what I’d do with it – then I found this recipe from the nice people at the Jersey pottery. Here is some black butter spooned straight from the jar:

So, we’ve said what it isn’t, now time to look at what it is! The label lists the ingredients as follows: apple (44%), cider (3.3%), lemon, treacle, sugar, licorice (0.4%), mixed spice and cinnamon. Tiny though the amount of licorice is, I could taste it – probably because I hate licorice. However, in the finished cheesecake the licorice was lost. Result!

This cheesecake was light and creamy and flavoursome. The black butter worked so well with the cream and cheese – even though it’s sweet, the acidity of the apples cut through the creaminess and created a lovely light, clean taste.

Do you like my scraffito technique?

One part of the method I’d draw your attention to is with regard to the base. I always melt the butter when making a crushed biscuit base and find that, as the butter sets, it oozes a bit of grease out into my fridge. This recipe puts unmelted butter and biscuits into the food processor and the result is as if you’d melted them – it knocks out the whole melting stage without any loss of quality to the base. I’ll be making all my bases like this in future!


300g hobnob biscuits (or any digestive-type biscuit)
100g unsalted butter
4 gelatine leaves
500ml double cream
1 vanilla pod – cut open and scrape out the seeds
300g cream cheese – I used philadelphia
225g (1 jar) Jersey black butter – you can use any high fruit content jam if you don’t have black butter
3 tablespoons water
½ lemon’s juice


- Start by making the base: place the biscuits and butter into a food processor and blitz until you have crumbs.

- Press into the base of a 20cm springform cake tin or, like me, use a 20cm flan ring on a plate. This makes it easier to serve.

- Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water until they are soft.

- Whisk the double cream until the soft peak stage then refrigerate until needed later on.

- Place the vanilla, cream cheese and black butter (or jam) into a bowl and beat until you have a smooth mixture.

- Place the water and lemon juice into a saucepan and heat gently until it simmers.

- Squeeze as much water as you can out of the gelatine before whisking it into the hot lemon juice. Whisk until it has completely dissolved – this won’t take long.

- Beat the lemony gelatine into the cream cheese mixture.

- Fold in the whipped cream.

- Spoon the cheesecake onto the biscuit base and level the surface.

- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight is better.

- Remove the ring by running a hot knife around the inside.

- One final thing – this is a big cheesecake. If you don’t need it all, slice it and wrap the slices individually – it freezes really well. Then, when you want cheesecake, you can defrost it a slice at a time.

- Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.

- Eat.