Sunday, 23 February 2014

Jam and custard bundt cake

I’ve had this gorgeous bundt cake for a while but not used it.  I wanted to save it for a special cake and this is it!  It was important that the outside of the cake was left simple and not over-iced so as to hide the intricacy of the mould.  Therefore, all the goodies are stashed away inside the cake and only revealed on cutting.

I hummed and hawed for a while over whether to put some glace icing over the top.  I do love glace icing but didn’t want to cover the cake, so I compromised – I went for a slightly thinner consistency of icing so it would cover but not hide the pattern.  Yes, I know it looked better without the icing but in my defence I truly love white icing! 

To stop the custard or jam seeping to the edge of the batter and possibly burning during baking I came up with a method to make channels in the batter and spoon the fillings into it.  Use a spoon or knife to make a channel like this:

Take care to spoon the custard and jam into the channel, making sure there is batter protecting it from the edges of the tin:

Cover with batter and spread carefully so as not to squidge the custard and jam out to the edge.

You get a lovely big slice from a bundt cake like this; the batter was the perfect quantity to fill the tin and, when baked, the cake only needed a thin trim to cut off the crust and make it stand nicely on a plate.

The sponge is lovely – soft and springy, and would be nice on its own with a buttercream or full covering of icing.  Definitely a keeper!


For the custard:
2 tablespoons custard powder
1 tablespoon caster sugar
280ml milk
For the cake batter:
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
450g caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract
350g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml natural/Greek style  yogurt
4-5 teaspoons jam – I used strawberry
For the glaze:
150g icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons warm water


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

Spray the bundt tin with cake release spray – my bundt tin was a N0rdicware 2.4l, 10 cup, 10 inch.

Make up the custard according to the instructions on the packet and leave to set.  You want the custard cold before you add it to the batter.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy; don’t skimp on this stage.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, add a little of the flour if it looks like the batter might curdle.

Beat in the vanilla.

Weigh out the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Measure out the yoghurt.

Stir in a third of the flour mixture followed by half the yogurt. Repeat this until everything is combined. Don’t over-beat the batter at this stage.

Spoon about a third of the batter into the prepared tin and ensure it is evenly spread out.   (NB.  I did this and my jam and custard sank during baking, so I think next time I’d put half the batter in first, then a layer of jam/custard, then half the remaining batter, layer of jam/custard, final bit of batter)

Take a blunt knife or teaspoon and bank the batter up the sides of the tin a little, to make a channel for the custard and jam.

Spread out half the custard onto the batter, taking care that it doesn’t reach the edges – you want it enclosed in the cake batter.

Dot some jam on top.

Spoon a further third of batter over the jam and custard, taking care not to squidge it out to the edges.

Bank the sponge again to make a channel.

Repeat the process with the remaining custard, jam and cake batter.  The final layer of cake batter should be spread smooth – no need to make a channel.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, then de-tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Now make the glace icing:  mix the icing sugar with a little warm water until you have a thick, glossy icing that’s runny but not watery.   If in doubt, keep the icing on the thick side.

Spoon it over the cake and allow to drizzle down the sides.

Leave to set.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Cherry, chocolate and coconut traybake

Five ingredients and about five minutes work to get into the oven – now that’s efficient!  Seriously, look how short the method is to make these.  These bars are a cross between coconut ice and an old fashioned coconut macaroon, with chewy bits of cherry and little chunks of chocolate thrown in for good measure. 

This is what a term a ‘me’ bake.  It uses some of my favourite ingredients but, at the same time, I knew it wouldn’t appeal to other members of my family as much as it did me.   (Don’t worry – I made them some rock buns on the side to ensure everyone was happy!)

I recommend cutting the fingers while the mix is soft and warm from the oven; you’ll have to cut again once cool but the grooves will guide your knife and stop the traybake crumbling too much.

These are crispy, crunchy and chewy at the same time but what I loved most of all were the little jammy sticky bursts of cherry – simply delicious!  Now I am an annoying baker; the sort that says to their eaters, ‘there are only five ingredients in these, who can guess what they are?’  Mr CC guessed flour (nope, does this make them gluten free?), butter (no) and then almonds.  And I know why he guessed almonds – the squidgy dense texture is reminiscent of the frangipane layer of a bakewell, and the cherries taste very jammy.  Therefore, if you like coconut and you like bakewells you will love these!


200g desiccated coconut
50-85g caster sugar, depending how sweet your tooth is -I used 85g obviously!
2 eggs
200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
90g glace cherries, chopped into quarters


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

Line a 24cm x 20cm roasting tin with baking paper or non stick foil.

Mix together all the ingredients until well combined.

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.  Take time to ensure the mix is pressed down and there are no air pockets.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and it feels firm to the touch.

Use a knife to score the warm mix into bars and then leave to cool completely.

Use the score lines to cut into fingers when cool.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Guinness and chocolate cake

I’ve been making a lot of cakes with fruit of late but fancied something rich, dark and chocolaty this weekend.  This cake ticked the boxes and the cream cheese frosting was a bonus!

The frosting is supposed to represent the head on a pint of Guinness.  I cannot drink Guinness, it makes my mouth pucker in a way Mr CC finds endlessly amusing.  Indeed, one of his favourite past times is egging me on to try a drink of his whilst promising, ‘honestly, it’s not that bitter’, just so he can see that face.  Quite why anyone wants to drink something that tastes like iron filings is beyond me – but – in a cake, with lots of sugar to temper the bitterness, it works really well.

Several of my eaters didn’t fancy this cake from the description but were amazed at how much they liked it.  It is the richest, most intense chocolate cake and you wouldn’t know it had Guinness in, but you would wonder why the chocolate was so much more satisfying than a normal chocolate cake.

I suppose I should say that this cake is really rich and small slices will suffice....but really?  When was a cake ever so good that you only wanted a small piece of it?  Does. Not. Compute.


For the cake:
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa powder
400g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

For the frosting:
300g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
150g icing sugar
125ml double cream


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

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.

Place the Guinness and butter into a saucepan and gently melt together, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

In a separate bowl beat together the sour cream and eggs, then stir into the butter mix.

Stir in the vanilla, flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool, in the tin, on a wire rack.  Don’t panic if it sinks a little on cooling – it’s a rich, squidgy cake!

Now make the topping: whisk the cream cheese until soft and smooth.

Add the icing sugar and beat it into the cream cheese.

Add the cream and beat again.

Spoon over the cake so that it looks like the head on a pint of Guinness.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Banana fruit loaf


I love bananas but most of my family don’t.  That’s why I don’t bake many banana recipes.  I chose this one thinking no one would know there were bananas lurking but be warned – this tastes very much of banana.

Sometimes banana bread can be a bit dense and stodgy for my taste, and what drew me to this recipe was that the finished article looks more like a tea loaf.  I think the lure of sultanas sold it to me too; any cake or biscuit with sultanas in is instantly healthy and suitable for breakfast.  No dietician in the land can convince me otherwise!

Remember the golden rule when serving this – it must be buttered thickly enough so the eater can provide a set of dental records with every bite!

Because I had 4 over ripe bananas I doubled the recipe and made two loaves.  It did result in a lot of banana loaf to eat but it’s versatile stuff – I’m going to toast it for breakfast when it ages and firms up some more, and I’m also tempted to use it for bread and butter pudding.


75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g light brown soft sugar
3 tablespoons runny honey
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas - peeled, destringed and mashed
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
225g sultanas or raisins – I used a mix of the two

To serve: butter


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

Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with a paper liner.

Beat together the butter and sugar until lighter and smooth – it won’t go fluffy because of the brown sugar and the ratio of ingredients.

Beat in the honey, eggs and bananas.  At this point it will look pretty unsavoury so don’t panic!

Add the flour, spice, bicarbonate of soda, salt and dried fruit and stir until well combined.

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve in thick slices, generously buttered.  When (if?) it reaches a few days old it can be toasted as a lovely breakfast treat!

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.