Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Marbled Coffee Loaf Cake


BFF of exhausted, sleep deprived parents, giver of (some) motivation every Monday morning and a rather delicious flavour for a loaf cake. Coffee cake is the homely staple of the village hall bake sale, an easy-pips cake that combines a light fluffy sponge with a bittersweet hit of caffeine. Although let's be honest, you'd probably have to eat the ENTIRE thing to have the equivalent caffeine hit of a triple espresso (don't put it past me though- I've a teething baby and a toddler who loves 5.30am).

It's even Nigel Slater's choice for his last meal on earth. And if it's good enough for Nige, well, it's certainly good enough for me.

Marbled Coffee Loaf Cake

For the cake:
225g softened butter
225g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsps instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tbsp boiled water
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:
100g softened butter
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp instant espresso coffee powder mixed with 1 tbsp boiled water

To decorate: chocolate coffee beans

1. Heat the oven to 180C/170C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
2. Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and flour for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Divide the mixture between two large bowls, lightly stirring in the espresso into one of the mixtures and the vanilla into the other
4. Alternatively dollop a large spoonful of each mixture into the tin to create the marbled effect. Once complete, tap the tin on the work surface to remove any air bubbles and swirl a skewer into the mixture to further add to the marbled effect
5. Bake for 45 min or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool
6. To make the icing: beat the butter, icing sugar and coffee powder until combined. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the coffee beans

Baker's notes...

  • Is it just me or does eating a slice of coffee cake with a cup of tea as I am doing right now feel rather wrong... but slightly audacious?
  • The traditional decoration on a coffee cake would be a handful of walnuts and Felicity Cloake advocates toasting them to bring out their flavour

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.