Monday, 23 November 2015

Thanksgiving Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing with

The USA has given the world Cheerios, Coca-Cola, Peanut Butter Cups and Oreos. It has also given us the first man on the moon, the polio vaccination, Thanksgiving and the world's very first speed dating event (Peet's Cafe, Beverley Hills, 1998, fact fans). are pairing Thanksgiving with Speed Dating this November, with a specially themed 'Short and Sweet' event in London on 26th November, serving our favourite American desserts. And the caterers will be baking this sweetly spiced pumpkin cake from yours truely. Not only do I love the thought of couples falling head over heels over a shared slice of cake but I really like the idea of a Thanksgiving celebration. AKA 'Christmas Day Practice Run'. More food and family, less commercialism and Christmas No 1s from the X Factor. Perhaps we could adopt Thanksgiving! Just like we've embraced Halloween in recent years but with treats all round.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing 

Serves 8-10


For the cake:
175g light muscovado sugar
175ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
140g grated pumpkin flesh
50g roughly chopped walnuts
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

For the icing:
100g softened unsalted butter
300g full fat cream cheese
100g sifted icing sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Walnut halves to decorate 


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Grease and line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking paper
2. Place the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the grated pumpkin and walnuts 
3. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, zest and spices. Lightly mix all the ingredients – resulting in a quite liquid mixture 
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and leaving to cool on a wire rack. 
5. For the cream cheese frosting: beat together the butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and orange zest until soft, smooth and fluffy. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with halved walnuts

Baker's notes...

Please note this is a sponsored post (

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Raspberry and Amaretti Biscuit Cake

Hands down, this is my favourite time of year. Mainly because an awful lot of celebration is involved. In 34 sleeps it is of course Christmas but this weekend also sees my sister and brother celebrate their birthdays. As a child, in order not to feel left out, my phenomenally kind parents would buy me a present too. It took me until the age of eighteen to stop feeling like the Queen with two birthdays a year, my official birthday in May and my unofficial one each November.  Spiffing stuff, as I'm sure Her Majesty said when she too realised she'd get to have two birthdays a year.

This year we've moved to the same city as my brother and sister. Hurrah, I get to bake them each a cake that hasn't spent two hours sweating in a tin precariously balanced on a pile of luggage on the Great Western Railway London to Cardiff train. I baked my brother a Chocolate and Coffee Battenburg Cake (his fave). It turned out to be more of a Leaning Tower of Battenburg as the baby choose the exact moment of construction to enter what we *fondly* refer to as 'The Milk Rage'. This cake was more successful, a bake that has become very much a family favourite in recent years. Its rather a perennial cake as not only is it super in the summer with fresh berries but it is the perfect cake baked with frozen fruit to use up any leftover amaretti biscuits from a festive glut.

Originally, a BBC Good Food recipe, I've adapted it somewhat over the years to the recipe below. I'm also entering this into the Tots 100/Clover #NothingArtificial challenge. With half the saturated fat of butter and simply made with buttermilk, Clover naturally adds flavour to family meals. And of course the great thing about home baking is that you know exactly what goes into your cake- no artificial nasties, no fancy E numbers or synthetic ingredients, just like Clover.

Raspberry and Amaretti Biscuit Cake

175g Clover
100g golden caster sugar
75g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp almond extract
100g amaretti biscuits
150g frozen raspberries or summer fruit
Icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 140C fan/160C/Gas Mark 3. Grease with Clover and line a loose bottomed 20cm round cake tin.

2. In a large bowl, place the Clover, sugars, eggs, flour and extract and beat together until thoroughly combined

3. Spread half of the mixture in the prepared tin and scatter with half of the biscuits and half of the fruit. Dollop over the remainder of the mixture and sprinkle with the rest of the biscuits and fruit.
4. Bake for 75-80 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
5. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out. Once cooled, dust with icing sugar (or see below)

Baker's notes...

  • Depending on your oven, it may be worth checking the cake after 60 minutes and you may need to cover with foil to avoid the fruit catching for the remainder of the cooking time
  • Serve warm with single cream or amaretto ice cream. Alternatively, the cake can be stored for 48 hours in an airtight container
  • Frozen fruit works brilliantly this time of year in this bake
  • For more details on the Clover challenge please visit Tots 100

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Chocolate Orange Mousse

 Our local coffee shop* has, this very week, introduced its festive range of hot drinks, including a choc-orange hot chocolate.  I have thoroughly tested this new addition to the menu and can confirm this timeless classic combination of flavours is really rather marvellous in a hot drink. Thick, creamy hot chocolate, tick;  zesty, sweet orange flavour, tick; lashng of cream and chocolate sprinkles, tick.

And as I was enjoying my third drink in as many days, it seemed very fortuitous that the folks at chocolate truffle experts Monty Bojangles got in touch to ask if I'd like to sample their Orange Angelical Cocoa Dusted Truffles. Of course I bloomin' well would.

Warming choc-orange hot chocolate in one hand, a delectable, orange truffle in the other. Now that's what I call food pairing.

Monty Bojangles also suggested using their truffles to create decadent dinner party desserts. Perfect for the festive season.

* I am currently enjoying maternity leave and I reckon the baby and I spend more time in said coffee shop than I do in my own kitchen at the moment

Chocolate Orange Mousse with Monty Bojangles Truffles

(recipe courtesy of Monty Bojangles)

Makes 20 Mousse Shots or 8 ramekin mousses


300g Monty Bojangles Orange Angelical Cocoa

Dusted Truffles, roughly chopped

Pinch of salt

8 eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

1 tbsp Cointreau or triple sec

2 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting

300ml double cream

4 oranges, zest only for dusting

  • Place the Monty Bojangles Truffles in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Melt over a low heat and add a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and put to one side. 
  • Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and add the caster sugar, liqueur and cocoa powder. Beat until smooth. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add this whipped cream to the yolk mixture and whisk again. 
  • Now add the melted Monty Bojangles Truffles and stir. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture as gently as you can. Don’t beat it or you will take all the air out!
  • Use a small spoon to drop the mousse into the shot glasses and chill for two hours.
  • Dust with cocoa powder and sprinkle with a little orange zest before serving.

Disclaimer: Monty Bojangles sent samples of their truffles to enjoy and bake with 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Halloween Chocolate Ghost Cake

Ah fiddlesticks.

Or, strictly speaking, as this is a Halloween themed post, broomsticks*.

There is, officially, a shortage of pumpkins. This 'crisis' has led to calls that the large rounded, orange squash-plant (pumpkin definitely has a better ring to it) should be replaced by the turnip. I'm not convinced. Not only because a turnip is reportedly harder to carve, but its rather like replacing Nigella in her latest TV series with the part-time chef from your local; disappointing, cheerless and a lot less glamourous.

But for all those of you dishearteningly chipping away at your turnip Jack o' Lantern this Halloween, comfort yourself by baking this super-easy, family-friendly (well, the ghost is a happy 'un) chocolate traybake.

* doesn't quite have the same impact, admittedly.

Cheerio Ghosty

Halloween Chocolate Ghost Cake
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 110ml boiling water
  • 100g soft butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 large  eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125ml milk
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 125g full fat cream cheese
  • 250g sifted icing sugar
  • Black fondant icing

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 30x23cm/12x9in traybake tin 
  2. Place the cocoa powder in a large bowl, add the boiling water and mix until smooth. Add the softened butter and beat into the cocoa until smooth. Add the remaining cake ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined
  3. Pour into the tin, spread evenly and bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until well risen, firm to the touch and the cake is shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
  4. Cut out a ghostly template from a piece of parchment paper to help guide your icing:

5. Beat together the sifted icing sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Pipe the icing around the ghostly template and spoon the remainder of the icing inside the piping, smoothing over. Decorate with the fondant icing shaped into your ghost's eyes, nose and happy smile!

Baker's Notes...

  • If you prefer a white chocolate icing simply beat together 50g melted white chocolate, 70g sifted icing sugar and 70g softened butter until smooth and thick
  • The cake would also suit a spooktastic spider's web design
  • This recipe is based on a recipe from the Queen of Traybakes, Dame Mary Berry 
  • Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Plum and Almond Loaf Cake and Baking with a Baby...

Dear Mummy,

I know it took you ten times longer than usual to make this cake. I know this because I tried to help. Except I'm only ten weeks old and my version of helping probably isn't, well. that helpful. 

I just thought you might like cuddles with me when you were preparing all the ingredients. I know you don't mind and your heart just melts when you snuggle me tight. But then you thought I might like my musical bouncer instead. That was a mistake Mummy. I really, really didn't. So we had to have loads more cuddles again while I got over the trauma of the twinkling Three Blind Mice tune. Meanwhile the ingredients stood forlorn on the table. 

And as you were half way through mixing all the ingredients together, wasn't it helpful that I decided what I wanted was a really, really, really long feed?  And then you needed to burp me a lot .... and then change all my clothes because you burped me a bit too much. 

Of course after such a lovely long feed, I often have a little nap. But sometimes I need rocking back and fro to help me nap. That's difficult when you're trying to stone and chop plums isn't it Mummy?

Then, just as you thought I was asleep and you'd gently placed me down in my bassinet, you foolishly decided to empty the dishwasher and the clanging of dishes woke me straight back up. Despite being so sleepy just moments earlier I suddenly found the ladybird pram toy Mamas and Papas promised you and Daddy would be vital for my development, yes the one I've studiously ignored for the last six weeks, FASCINATING.  And I was too excited to sleep. And that's why the flaked almonds didn't get toasted like they should and you just chucked half the pack on top of the cake.

But Daddy said the cake was tasty and I gave  you so many big smiles; it didn't matter in the slightest that it had taken five hours to bake.

Lots of love

Your Baby Girl xxx

Plum and Almond Loaf Cake

For the Cake:
250g Self-Raising Flour
175g butter, softened and cut into cubes
150g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
350g plums, stones removed and chopped
For the topping:
3 tbsp plum jam
2 ripe plums, stones removed and cut into wedges
Toasted flaked almonds, for scattering
1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/140C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin with non-stick baking parchment.
2. Place the flour, butter, sugar, eggs and almond extract in a large bowl and beat together for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy. 
3. Add the chopped plums and stir in. Spoon the cake mix into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
4. Prior to serving, warm the jam and brush over the top of the cake. Arrange the plum wedges over the top. Scatter the toasted almonds over and serve immediately.
Baker's notes...
  • This is a lovely Autumnal bake, perfect for using the best British plums
  • Damsons would work just as well


Nutty Blackberry and Apple Cake supporting Tea & Talk on World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on the 10th October this year and the theme is dignity in mental health. 

The Mental Health Foundation explains:

'Effectively supporting people experiencing mental health problems is on target to become one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. Stigmatising and discriminatory treatment can be particularly distressing when a person is experiencing a health crisis. We all have mental health, and by failing to treat people with mental health problems with dignity we make it more difficult to ensure that everyone takes steps to safeguard their wellbeing and to seek help, as it can lead to self-stigma, low confidence, low self-esteem, withdrawal and social isolation'.
As part of World Mental Health Day, the Mental Health Foundation are holding their annual fundraising and awareness-raising day, Tea and Talk. I was asked if it were possible to contribute a recipe to feature as inspiration in Talkback, the Mental Health Foundation Supporter's magazine. This delicious, fruity Autumnal treat is a lovely cake to exchange for some vital fundraising cash!

Nutty Blackberry and Apple Cake

175g butter, softened
175g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
125g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eating apples
150g blackberries
20g soft brown sugar
50g toasted almond flakes
50g toasted chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line an 8 inch loose bottomed round cake tin. Beat together the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. 
2. Gradually add in the eggs, adding a spoonful of flour if the mixture is curdling
3. Fold in the flour and ground almonds. 
4. Stir through two thirds of the apples and all of the blackberries. Scrape into the prepared tin and dot the remainder of the apples on the top and sprinkle over the brown sugar
5. Bake for 50-55 min or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and scatter over the toasted nuts

Baker's notes...

  • For more information, including how you can take part and several other delicious recipes visit Tea and Talk. Happy baking!
  • This recipe first featured on What Kate Baked in September 2014

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Pear Apple and Almond Cake


Easily my second favourite month of the year (December being número uno what with Christmas, obvs). The school kids have gone back meaning the queue in the local ice cream parlour is no longer 25 deep each afternoon (very fortuitous timing with the Indian Summer forecast).

The Great British Bake Off is getting into its stride, with favourites being formed and Ian no longer being star baker every single week. And star spangled Strictly is soon to return, brightening dark Autumnal evenings.

The shelves in the local greengrocers are packed full of glorious late summer and early autumnal bounty: blackberries, plums, apples and pears. All marvellous inspiration when it comes to baking. Such as this Pear, Apple and Almond Cake, a twist on a Mary Berry favourite.

Pear Apple and Almond Cake

125g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds
1.5 level tsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp almond extract
150g butter, melted
150g cooking apples, peeled and cored
150g pears, peeled and cored
25g flaked almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Lightly grease a deep 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
  2. Beat together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sugar, eggs, almond extract and melted butter in a large bowl. 
  3. Spread half this mixture in the prepared tin. Thickly slice the apples and pears and lay on top of the mixture in the tin. Roughly spoon the remaining mixture over the fruit and sprinkle over the flaked almonds. 
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 1¼-1½ hours until golden and coming away from the sides of the tin

Baker's Notes...

  • This cake is perfectly served warm with an enormous dollop or two of custard
  • Alternatively serve cold with a dollop of creme fraiche