Sunday, 12 November 2017

Autumn Blackberry and Lemon Victoria Sponge Cake

It's beginning to look a lot like... oh no, wait, its only the 11th November.

But the supermarkets are already piled with mince pies and those in the know booked their festive online delivery slots while relaxing on their sunloungers, sangria and sunscreen in hand, back in August. I'm being increasingly asked whether I've completed my Christmas shopping yet (eh?!). And the harbinger of Christmas, the John Lewis ad, was out this week. I'm not convinced they've hit the emotional high of the little boy desperate for Christmas to give his presents and aren't they feeding into every child's insecurity about a monster under the bed? Or perhaps they over ordered on the nighlights this year and just needed to shift them...

Anyway, I'm as crackers about Christmas as, well, Santa himself, but it does feel a little early no? So, in a stubborn attempt to persuade myself we are still in the midsts of Autumn,  I baked this very Autumnal sounding Blackberry and Lemon Victoria Sponge. Its a very simple recipe but the tart blackberries and lemon contrast beautifully with the sweet butter icing.

Happy baking!

Autumnal Blackberry and Lemon Victoria Sponge

For the cake:
200g golden caster sugar
200g softened unsalted butter
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp milk

For the icing:
100g unsoftened unsalted butter
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 lemon
1-2 tbsps of milk
1 punnet of blackberries

1. Heat the oven to 190C/170Cfan/Gas Mark 5. Butter and line two 20cm sandwich tins
2. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg until completely combined.
3. Fold in the flour and the baking powder. If the mixture needs a little loosening, add the milk and lightly mix in
4. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for approx 20 minutes until golden and the cake springs back on touch
5. Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely
6. For the icing, beat together all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Spread the icing over the each of the cakes and top with the blackberries. Sandwich the cakes together ad dust with a little icing sugar before serving

Baker's notes...

  • Ahhhh, there's nothing quite like a Victoria Sponge and this makes a perfect accompaniment to a hot cuppa after a chilly autumnal walk
  • The cake keeps for two days stored in an airtight container
  • Edit: Just after typing this post out, I've ordered my first two Christmas presents for the kids. Maybe I am ready to embrace the start the festive season afterall. Certainly the 25% off at John Lewis at any rate. 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Halloween Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

With the darker evenings and cooler days, Autumn has well and truly got it's feet tucked firmly under the dining room table. Heartier bakes are on the menu and with Halloween just round the corner there's nothing more seasonal than a vibrant, sweet pumpkin.

Talking of All Hallow's Eve, I'm writing this sat infront of the Halloween Strictly Come Dancing special (its another rock-n-roll Saturday night in the What Kate Baked household!). This is the extent of my Halloween celebrations. I've eaten all the chocolates intended for any trick or treaters. If I carve a pumpkin I'm very likely to end up with a pumpkin soupy-mush. And I'm too much of a wuss to watch a horror film. But I am all about the treat of course!

This recipe is from BBC Good Food. I adapted it slightly including reducing the sugar content, popping in some walnuts for a little crunch and adding some carrot as I'd read that pumpkins can have a quite considerable water content. The cake is gently spiced, beautifully moist and the cream cheese icing adds an extra sweetness.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

For the cake:

300g self-raising flour
250g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp bicarbnate soda
75g sultanas
100g chopped walnuts
0.5 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
200g butter
250g grated pumpkin (peeled weight)
250g grated carrot (peeled weight)

For the icing:
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter at room temp
125g cream cheese
Zest of two clementines

1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm baking tin with parchment paper.
2. Put the flour, sugar, spices, bicarbonate, sultanas, walnuts and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
3. Beat the eggs into the butter and mix into the dry ingredients. Stir in the pumpkin and carrot
4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden and the cake springs bake on touch
5. For the icing: beat together the icing sugar, butter and cheese. Once the cake has completely cooled, spread over the icing and decorate with the zest of the clementines

Baker's notes...

  • The original recipe stated 30 minutes as the cooking time but many of the reviews found that the cake took over an hour, I suspect due to the water content of the pumpkins. If you find yours is taking a little longer, pop a little foil 'hat' over the cake to avoid the top burning
  • Instead of the sweet cream cheese topping, this cake would be just as delicious with a simple water icing ...or even stark naked
  • This is a great way of using up the innards of the pumpkin after carving a ghost/cat/your self-portrait

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm baking or small roasting tin with baking parchment. Put the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, sultanas and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, then mix with the dry ingredients till combined. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 mins, or until golden and springy to the touch.
  2. To make the frosting, beat together the cheese, butter, icing sugar, orange zest and 1 tsp of the juice till smooth and creamy, then set aside in the fridge. When the cake is done, cool for 5 mins then turn it onto a cooling rack. Prick it all over with a skewer and drizzle with the rest of the orange juice while still warm. Leave to cool completely.
  3. If you like, trim the edges of the cake. Give the frosting a quick beat to loosen, then, using a palette knife, spread over the top of the cake in peaks and swirls. If you’re making the cake ahead, keep it in the fridge then take out as many pieces as you want 30 mins or so before serving. Will keep, covered, for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The ten steps involved in baking with children

After seven months knee deep in nappies with two children under two it was high time for me to dip my toes back into the world of baking and blogging. And what better a rainy Sunday afternoon activity with my two precious poppets than teaching them the glorious art and science of baking? I give you the ten steps involved in baking with children...

1. Enthusiastically decide what to bake. Gaily flick through Nigella and Nigel's seminal works, admiring the beautiful photography and the mouthwatering descriptions. Consider baking a Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream until you take one look at your sous chef, aka the baby. Who is currently licking caked-on, dried-up porridge stuck to his socks from breakfast....two days ago. Decide your sous chef isn't quite up to the Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream.

2. Significantly reduce expectations of a culinary masterpiece and decide even Mary Berry had to start somewhere. Head to the shops for some rice krispies. Yep, you'll start with that classic, the time-honoured, rice krispie cake.

3. Spend five minutes imagining the gorgeous, insta-worthy photos you'll be taking over the next twenty minutes, complete with the-not-particularly-original and very smug hastag #futurebakeoffcontestants

4. Round up the children. Delay the start of the bakeoff to deal with two urgent nappy situations, admiring, as always, your children's timing

5. Start proceedings with an educational slant by showing the toddler what weighing scales, mixing bowls, wooden spoons, baking trays etc etc are. The toddler will inevitably show next to no interest, preferring instead to devour at least half of the chocolate buttons intended for the rice krispie cakes

6. Watch in slow motion as the baby, who until now has been sitting in his high chair, observing events in the manner of a mini Paul Hollywood, reaches over and knocks the entire box of rice krispies to the floor. Spend the next three days hearing crunching (with a snap, crackle, pop naturally) underfoot every time you walk into the kitchen

7. Realise the toddler has lost interest completely and wondered off

8. With the baby still rooted in the high chair and therefore with little choice in the matter, teach him how to make rice krispie cakes, persevering despite the baby showing far more interest in mutilating Sophie the Giraffe with his two new teeth

9. Now that both sous chefs have shown as much interest in baking as most people show in doing their tax returns, think wistfully of the Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream. Attempt a bit of creativity with a nod to Halloween by forming the rice krispie cakes into pumpkins

10. Decide next time you'll save the baking until the precious poppets have gone to bed and stick on cbeebies instead

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A little announcement...


This is just a little note to the tumbleweed clogging up this blog. How are you? Dusty and neglected?

Well, quite. You see, over the last couple of years I've only sporadically been baking and keeping this blog up to date. Life, namely two brand new children, two house moves and a new job have got in the way. Don't get me wrong, 67% of my diet still consists of cake (the other 33% custard creams) but my cake tins haven't seen an airing for rather a long time. I'm hoping one day to return to regular blogging about cakes but in the meantime I'll post every now and again on here, but will keep tweeting and have an exciting BRAND NEW page on facebook

Meanwhile a BIG thank you to all those who have once followed this blog and those who continue to do so xx

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Chocolate and Orange Welsh Cakes

A mixture of the more traditional Welsh Cake and the indulgent Chocolate Orange version

Happy St David's Day!

The Welsh patron saint was known for extreme austerity (yes, he was the forefather of the modern Tory party!) with monks living in monasteries founded by him living on a diet of bread, vegetables, water and milk. After a while, the monks tired of abstaining from worldly pleasures (and chocolate) and attempted to poison St David's bread, but with no avail and St David lived to slay another dragon*

It therefore may do little to impress stern St David and Welsh Cake purists, but how about celebrating Wales' national day with these Chocolate and Orange Welsh Cakes?

* Except he didn't ever slay a single dragon. Mainly because dragons are mythical creatures and don't exist. Obvs.

Chocolate and Orange Welsh Cakes

125g butter (unsalted, softened at room temperature and cut into small pieces)250g self-raising flour75g caster sugar50g orange or mixed peel50g chopped dark chocolate1 beaten eggPinch of salt1 tbsp milk (if needed)

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs2. Add the sugar, peel and chocolate and mix together3. Mix in the beaten egg and bring together to form a soft dough with a fork, using the milk to bind further if required 4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin roll out the mixture to about 1cm thickness5. Using a cutter or upturned glass cut out the circles6. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy frying pan on a medium heat7. Place the cakes onto the surface one or two at a time and cook one side before gently turning over to cook the other side8. Cool on a wire rack. 9. Tuck in with gusto

Baker’s notes....
  • Each Welsh Cake takes approximately 2-3 minutes to cook on each side; you should be aiming for a caramel, light brown colour
  • If the cakes turn a darker colour, quickly, your pan may be too hot. Turn down the that better?
  • My original, traditional Welsh Cake recipe can be found right here
  • Bendigedig!!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Baking Trends 2017

Image result for 2017

Happy New Year!

It's a brand spanking New Year and that only means one thing! Well, two things. Firstly the hurried, panicked consumption of left over Mince Pies and chocolates from Christmas (8 pies and 4 boxes to go!!) and secondly the annual tradition that is the What Kate Baked 2017 baking trends forecast. As unreliable as the weather, as ill informed as the President-elect of the USA and as inaccurate as ever!


By the end of 2017 all baked goods will resemble this metamorphic rock. Your standard tin loaf will resemble the marbled Taj Mahal, your Welsh Cakes will resemble the the Washington Memorial and your key lime pie will resemble your ... kitchen worktop. Well, sort of. But doesn't it look pretty? 

marbled meringues


Viva! Step aside Peru, this year's hottest travel destination will be influencing the food we'll be eating over the next 365 days. The legendary Portuguese Tart will be on every baker's must-bake list (or must-buy list if you've a brilliant Portuguese Bakery just down the road like we have). 

Fancy flours

Start relegating your plain white flour to the back the cupboard this instant. Coconut flour is the flour you need to be using this year. Sure, it is at least ten times the price of your standard stuff, but you'll be bang on trend my friend. 

Sweet and Savoury 

In the confusing taste turmoil that is combining sweet and savoury on the same fork, look out for savoury doughnuts such as the crab doughnuts served at Chiltern Firehouse and the seafood sundaes currently being enjoyed in the finest Parisian patisseries 

Ice Cream Roll-Ups

Not the illegitimate child of Mr Whippy and a circus ringmaster's favourite saying, but a Thai street-food where liquid ice cream is flash frozen, stuffed with fruit then wrapped up burrito-style before being garnished with cookies. Otherwise known as your entire daily calorie allowance

Image result for ice cream roll up
Image: Buzzfeed

And saving the very best trend for last...

Chocolate Cake for breakfast

Yes, you read that correctly. Throw aside your toast, wave cheerio to your Cornflakes, lets celebrate the dawn of 2017 with chocolate cake for breakfast. According to the Evening Standard the health benefits of dark chocolate means we'll be eating chocolate earlier in the day, not just in December when advent calendars provide a fulfilling, nutritious breakfast. 

Grab a plate, channel Bruce Bogtrotter and have a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Happy Christmas!

A rather belated but very merry Christmas! I'm not entirely sure when etiquette experts recommend switching from wishing a Happy Christmas to a Happy New Year but as Father Christmas didn't deliver a copy of Debrettes this year, I'm sticking to Christmas. Even if the tree is looking decidedly wonky, tired and sad, the leftover turkey made into at least 352 supplementary dishes and the Internet is awash with "50 ways to lose those Christmas pounds" rather than "50 ways to make your  Christmas Pudding even more indulgent". 

Hope y'all had a good time. The toddler, although yet to be aware of quite what Christmas is about, certainly nailed the unwrapping of presents this year. As relatively new parents, we'd made the fatal mistake of wrapping said presents around 10pm on Christmas Eve, not realising that the toy kitchen we had bought was flat-ruddy-pack. With instructions that I'm sure were practically written by the toddler. In other words, little more than doodles of the kitchen at different stages of construction that after a few festive G & Ts were just a little bit tricky to decipher. 

I do love this indulgent hiatus week between Christmas and New Year. Where it's still acceptable to eat Quality Street and Wensleydale with Cranberries for breakfast. To not get dressed until midday and still wear Christmas jumpers on frosty winter walks. To contemplate doing worthy things like the crossword or a game of scrabble but instead watch a feast of films on the telly (that you inevitably watched last Christmas. And the one before that). When you have friends round on the pretext of being social but have a hidden agenda of making sure they help you eat every last mince pie which you panic bought on Christmas Eve, forgetting that the shops only close for 24 hours and your freezer is full of homemade ones. And spend the best part of the week trying to decide what to do on New Years Eve... and settle on a quiet night in. 

Talking of which, a happy, happy New Year to you all.