Flourless Chocolate Almond Easter Torte

Hi everyone! Happy Easter! I hope that you are all ok, despite the difficult times we are living in at the moment. I am trying to keep busy despite the quarantine and am doing as much as I can to help where I can.

My blog has been neglected again recently but I need to put that right. I have done lots of baking and unfortunately my waistline is now suffering for it. Thankfully the weather has been lovely for our daily exercise! But today, being Easter I thought I’d share a recipe with you that we have had for our Easter lunch. We don’t eat roast lamb at Easter (I think lamb stinks when it’s cooking) so I don’t bother. We’re having roast chicken with all the trimmings instead. For dessert we are having this Flourless Chocolate Easter Cake. Although it could be eaten at any time of the year, this is just so appropriate at the moment.

For a start, this cake doesn’t contain flour and that’s handy if you’ve been struggling to get flour when doing your food shopping. I have been fine so far but I couldn’t find any more baking powder or bicarbonate of soda last week when I went to my local Morrison’s. Instead of flour, this recipe uses ground almonds.

Ingredients:

175g unsalted, softened butter

200g plain/ dark chocolate (use one with high cocoa solids if you can)

140g caster sugar

3 large free range eggs (separated)

90g ground almonds

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp almond extract

Mini eggs, chocolates or sprinkles to decorate.

You will a need loose bottomed, 18cm/ 7″ diameter cake tin.

  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC/ 350oF or Gas 4. Fan oven, preheat to 160o.
  1. Grease your tin with cake release spray or some butter and line the base with a baking parchment circle.
  2. Melt half the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave this to cool down.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, cream 115g of the butter and all of the caster sugar together. One by one, add the egg yolks and beat well.
  4. Then beat in the chocolate as well as the almond extract.
  5. Fold in the ground almonds and the baking powder with a metal spoon.
  6. In another clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.
  7. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and then bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Let the cake cool on a wire rack in its tin. When it is completely cool, turn it out.
  9. Melt the remaining chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  10. Cool slightly and then spread over the top of your cake.
  11. Decorate your cake with your chosen treats!
  • I chose to use Galaxy Enchanted Mini Eggs for my decoration. I just love Galaxy chocolate and saw these a few weeks ago. They were put away out of sight or I would have scoffed them there and then! All it needs is a spoonful of cream to go with it.
  • Happy Easter and Stay Safe! Xx
  • Panforte- The Great British Bake Off Christmas.

    Friday 22nd December 2017.

    Panforte is a traditional Italian delicacy which is usually eaten with coffee after a meal. It is full of dried fruit, nuts and spices and baked in the oven on rice paper. A little piece goes a long way as it is very rich.

    I had tried some Panforte one Christmas when my Mum had bought some. It might have come from Lakeland or Waitrose but I couldn’t get enough of it. I remember seeing whole hazelnuts inside the Panforte and it felt very chewy, almost toffee like in consistency. No wonder I couldn’t stop at one piece!

    When I was looking for ideas to make for foodie presents this year I saw a recipe for Panforte in my Great British Bake Off Christmas Book. It was quite an expensive sweet to make as I don’t know about you but I think both dried fruits and nuts have gone up a hell of a lot in price in the past few years. Don’t get me started on all the other baking ingredients! So, I would only choose to make two panfortes and for those who I knew would like one.

    It was the Friday before Christmas (can you believe that’s over a week ago now, where has the time gone?) and I was trying to do everything on that one day. By the time it got to Friday teatime I had a meltdown and started crying thinking why am I doing all this? I still had a birthday cake to bake, I hadn’t finished my Dad and step-mum’s Christmas present and I hadn’t made our usual mince pies and sausage rolls. Any normal person would have gone out and bought them but I’d bought all my mincemeat in and also the sausagemeat and I didn’t want to go out spending any more money. I guess, what with my day job and school breaking up so late I was struggling time wise.

    But earlier on in the day I felt as if things were more under control. I was keeping going drinking endless cups of tea and coffee but later I got Mr SmartCookieSam to pour me a large gin and tonic. That did calm me down!

    Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. Back to the panforte. In the Bake Off recipe the dried fruit you need are figs and apricots. I don’t mind dried apricots but figs- yeuggghhh! I needed most of the packet of them and boy did they take ages to cut up. Then I cut up the dried apricots and put them, along with the figs into a pan and heated it on the hob with some runny honey, some light brown muscovado sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and some ground mixed spice. The recipe needed cardamom pods (which I’d not got in) and also ground cloves. I had whole ones but not the plain ones. I had used the mixed spice instead of the cardamom and cloves. Also to the pan I added about a tablespoonful of water. This mixture was heated for about 10 minutes until it became soft and sticky,

    Meanwhile I had weighed out some mixed peel, whole blanched almonds and some pistachios. I had to buy pistachios with the shells still on (so I had to remove these before mixing them in) Along with that I put in 3 tablespoonfuls of plain flour.

    Panforte is traditionally lined with rice paper but I couldn’t find any in my local Morrisons with the baking stuff. I just lined the base of two loose bottomed round 18cm or 7″ cake tins with baking parchment. Though obviously that’s not edible!

    I spooned the mixture between two tins as I had made double the quantity and baked both the panfortes at the same time. They took about 45 minutes in the oven. I must admit they didn’t look very pretty when they came out of the oven. They looked like giant cow pats! But dusted with a bit of icing sugar then they would be fine.

    When the panfortes were cooled, I put them onto a thin circular cake board and wrapped them in clear cellophane. To finish I chose some pretty Christmas ribbon to tied them up with.

    I gave one of the Panfortes to my Mum, the other to our family friend Paul. I hope they both like them and don’t break their teeth on them!

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

    The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Tunis Cake

    Friday 15th December 2017.

    I must admit I hadn’t a clue what the origin of a Tunis Cake was.  Mary Berry had made one on one of her and Paul Hollywood’s original Great British Bake Off Masterclass programmes from a couple of years back.  I remember having a go at making one myself after seeing the pretty impressive chocolate topped almond  and lemon sponge which was finished off with marzipan holly leaves and berries.

    The definition of a Tunis cake according to Wikipedia is that it’s “a madeira cake topped with a thick layer of chocolate and decorated with marzipan fruits,”  The origin of the cake dates back to Edwardian times.

    I had been at work in the morning and was back home just after lunch time to get jobs done.  Not much had got done this week at home and don’t even ask about the Christmas shopping. But baking would relax me and I fancied baking a cake for my daughter coming home from uni the next day!

    When I had my last go at baking the Tunis Cake I used the wrong size tin and therefore the cake was wider and shallower than it was meant to be.  Also, the icing didn’t look as neat as it should be.  Didn’t spoil the taste though!  Traditionally, the decorations are marzipan but I used sugar paste both times.  I needed to save the marzipan for our Christmas Cake!

    First of all I started to bake the Madeira Sponge.  I love madeira sponges and this one is full of flavour from ground almonds and grated lemon zest.  All the ingredients were weighed out and mixed together in an all in one method.  The mixture was then put in the greased and lined deep cake tin.  While this was baking I made myself a well needed cup of tea and did the washing up!

    The topping for the Tunis Cake is a very deep chocolate ganache.  I heated double cream in a small pan on the hob, then once it was starting to boil I took it off the heat and stirred in the chocolate pieces until they melted.  The ganache was left to cool a little and then poured on top of the cake still in the tin.  It was left in the tin until the chocolate was set. I was worried that the cake wouldn’t come out of the tin properly but it did.

    The holly leaves were made simply by using ready made and coloured sugar paste.  I had a holly cutter and put the veins on the leaves using  a mini roller. I also rolled mini red balls for the berries.

    Before the cake completely set, I arranged the holly leaves in a wreath pattern around the edge of the cake.  I didn’t dare eat a piece there and then but by the following lunchtime I caved in and ate a piece instead of eating a healthy lunch.  Too much temptation. Over the next few days the cake got eaten.  It’s definitely one you would have as an alternative to Christmas Cake or pudding if you’re not a great dried fruit lover.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

     The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Peanut Butter, Popcorn and Chocolate Fudge Torte.

    Monday December 11th 2017.

    Gosh, this seems like a long time ago now but the last two weeks before Christmas were so busy.  I didn’t have time to get updated with my blogging.  Anyway, here we are just after Christmas and I’m sat on the sofa typing this feeling like a beached whale.  I haven’t stuffed myself silly full of Celebrations and mince pies but I’ve not eaten well all through December.  Roll on the New Year!  Though when I go along to one of my Clandestine Cake Club events I don’t feel guilty about eating and enjoying cakes.  

    The aforementioned Clandestine Cake Club recently celebrated its seventh birthday at a special event in Leeds.  The event was held in the restaurant on the top floor in the new John Lewis store.  I always like going to cake club events there because of the car park next door so that I haven’t got to cart my cake too far through the city centre.  This time, though was funny as I had my cake in a clear plastic container so various people were looking at me walking through the store carrying a cake.  I was so worried I was going to trip up on the escalator!

    The cake I chose to bake was yet another recipe from The Great British Bake Off Christmas recipe book which was one of John Whaite’s own creations.  John won series three back in 2012 and his Peanut Butter, Popcorn and Chocolate Fudge Torte sounded absolutely mouthwatering.  The recipe introduction says: “Christmas is undoubtedly a time of indulgence or rather overindulgence (you’re telling me!) This torte is not only a feast for the stomach with its layers of soft cake, sweet mousse and decadent fudge but because of those defined layers, also a feast for the eyes; perfect for a Christmas Eve treat,”  We tend to go out for dinner on Christmas Eve but usually there isn’t cake involved, we’re far too full up!

     Although there was a lovely photo of John himself in the book posing with what looked like a peanut butter cake, there wasn’t a photo of the whole cake.  I had to guess from the recipe instructions to see how it would turn out like. 

    So, on with the actual baking.  Mr SmartCookieSam had gone off to work and my son had left for college, it was just me and the animals.  My dog sloped off to have a snooze in his bed and I put the radio on to listen along while I was baking. I felt really happy and content as I got out my ingredients and the cake tin needed for the recipe.

    The main part of the cake is a chocolate genoise.  I am not that familiar with baking genoise cakes but I know that they involce whisking eggs and then sugar together to get the air into the cake,  I did whisk for the full five minutes as the recipe asked me to do, even looking at the clock to check.

    After the eggs and sugar had been whisked together I sifted in some plain flour and some cocoa powder along with some melted butter. I’m glad I remembered about the melted butter.  Last time a recipe asked for melted butter I melted it in the microwave and then forgot about it.  It wasn’t until the cake was in the oven baking that I realised I’d forgotten to add the butter! Eeeek!!

    The cake mixture was then poured into a springform cake tin and put in the oven for 25 minutes to bake.  I then took it out of the oven and let it cool down on a wire rack until it was completely cold.

    Meanwhile, I got the filling for the cake ready.  This was where all the calorific and indulgent ingredients came out.  I started with blitzing some Butterkist Toffee Popcorn in my blender until they became like coarse sand. I then added in double cream until it started to thicken up slightly.  After this, in went some smooth peanut butter, some condensed milk and some mascarpone cheese.  How does this taste sooo good?  Once this was mixed again so it was thickened up but not so much that it couldn’t be spread with a pallette knife. It was then put aside in a bowl and left until the cake was ready to be iced.  

    The topping was a chocolate fudge affair and was made with even more condensed milk, more peanut butter, more double cream and some dark chocolate.  I can’t remember what sort of dark chocolate I used, probably what was on special offer in Morrisons that week.  

    Now this is where I’d fail miserably if this had been a Bake Off Technical challenge.  I didn’t read the recipe properly and missed out the step where I was meant to put the cake back into the tin once I’d cut it in half horizontally, filled it and then added the fudge topping when it was in the tin.  I didn’t do that.  I took the cake out of the tin and then put it onto a cake board to decorate.  When I’d decorated it, it went into the fridge to set but not in the tin.  It did make the finish of the cake a bit messier.

    When the cake was setting in the fridge for an hour, it was lunchtime by this stage.  I sat down and had some soup while the remaining toffee popcorn had been put into a pan with some brown sugar to caramelise.  It took about 10 minutes to do this and then I let them cool down completely before putting them on the top of the cake.  To finish I found some champagne bottle candles left over from a birthday cake and stuck them on the top of the cake.  

    The cake was very big and rich so a small slice was all that was needed.  It seemed to go down well, along with the other cakes at the event.  I went home with one of my sugar rush headaches feeling that I could never eat another cake again.  This was very short lived as the following day I was out having Afternoon Tea with my friends!

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

    The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Rudolph’s Carrot Cake.

    Wednesday December 6th 2017.

    I love a good carrot cake.  This version from The Great British Bake Off Christmas book has a special twist to it in that it’s decorated with a reindeer red nose and antlers on the top of it.  Although my children are too old for the leaving goodies out for Santa tradition, I can imagine that Santa and Rudolph will love a slice of carrot cake as a change from all those mince pies and raw carrots!  It does take me back to when we used to leave Santa a glass of whiskey, a mince pie and a carrot for the Rudolph. As the recipe introduction says: “Father Christmas and Rudolph will be over the moon when they receive a little slice of this moist carrot cake before heading back to the North Pole.  It is best eaten on the day it is baked as the icing needs to be kept in the fridge which can make the sponge a little bit heavy”

    As it’s still over 2 weeks until Christmas, there’s no way that this cake will be left out for Santa to eat at our house.  Instead it was to be baked and taken as a treat along to one of my regular schools I teach in as a supply teacher.  As I have to be extremely careful with allergies, etc. I made sure that the cake did not contain nuts.  Instead of pine nuts which this recipe called for, I substituted the same amount of nuts for raisins.

    The most tedious part of baking a carrot cake, to me is the carrot grating.  Of course I could cut corners and put the carrots through the grating attachment on my food processor. But, by the time I’d got the machine out, I could have grated the carrots by hand. When I’d grated all the carrots I needed I put them to one side in a bowl so that I could get on with weighing out the other ingredients.

    In one bowl I whisked together sunflower oil. maple syrup, eggs and some light brown muscovado sugar.  Then in another bowl I weighed out and sifted together the dry ingredients: self raising flour, ground cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. The raisins then got added in, instead of the pine nuts along with the grated carrots.

    I then greased and lined two 20cm or 8 inch diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins.  The mixture was divided between the two tins and baked in the oven for about 35 minutes.  By this time I was feeling really hungry.  I’d come home from work, grabbed a sandwich and a cup of tea and now the smell of baking carrot cake wafting around the kitchen was too much for me.  I made myself another cup of tea and sat in the lounge away from temptation to nibble at something sweet.

    When the cake was out of the oven and cooling down on the rack I made up the cream cheese icing.  It was a miracle that Mr SmartCookieSam hadn’t nicked any of the cream cheese to put on his toast at breakfast time.  This recipe needed 400g of full fat cream cheese.  I always use full fat Philadelphia as it gives great results and is really creamy.  To this I added some icing sugar and about 50ml of double cream. This version doesn’t use butter so wasn’t as sickly as some cream cheese frostings I’ve had in the past.

    Half an hour later the cake was cooled and ready to be iced and filled.  I decided to decorate the cake differently to how it was illustrated in the book.  Instead of melted chocolate and red sprinkles to make a reindeer face and antlers, I found some reindeer themed sprinkles in my baking stash.  They contrasted well with the carrot cake.

    On Thursday morning I was in such a rush to get off to work that I left the cake at home in a box in the fridge. I’d kept it in the fridge what with the frosting containing cream cheese and double cream. Of course out of sight, out of mind!  So what did I do when I got in from work? Yes, you guessed right, I had a piece!

    Definitely a cake to start new traditions with children on Christmas Eve. Or even a great cake to eat with a cup of tea or coffee instead of a mince pie to relax with at any time over the festive period.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

    The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Mary Berry’s Classic Christmas Cake.

    Sunday December 3rd, 2017.

    Since I gave up baking professionally to concentrate on the day job full time, I’ve had less time to spend on baking things like Christmas cakes. Mr Smartcookiesam says to me every year that I should just go and buy a small one from Marks and Spencer but to me part of Christmas is baking and decorating a Christmas cake. Why should I go out and buy something I enjoy baking at home?

    I’ve never been a massive fan of roll out icing and marzipan but I love fruit cakes. If I eat Christmas cake I always take the icing off and serve it with a slice of Wensleydale cheese as you do in my part of the world. I try to decorate my cake differently each year but if I’m short of time I always get out my The Snowman and the Snowdog decorations and cake ribbon. At the time of writing I’ve no idea how I’m going to decorate this year’s cake, please send some inspiration my way!

    As for the previous couple of years I’ve used Mary Berry’s Classic Christmas Cake recipe for my family Christmas cake. The recipe features in both The Great British Bake Off Christmas book and Mary’s own Christmas Collection. Dried fruit (a mixture of currants, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and halved glacé cherries) had been soaking in some brandy for a few days along with some orange zest.

    This afternoon, albeit a few days after it should have been done but I thought I’d better get started on the cake. I knew I needed time where I’d be in all afternoon while it was baking. Sundays are not usually a day of rest in our house. I’m normally catching up on all the jobs I haven’t done from the previous week or trying to get ahead for the next week. No time like the present, as they always say.

    In a large bowl I creamed together unsalted butter, light brown sugar, treacle and eggs. After these were mixed together, I added in some flour and some ground mixed spice along with some chopped blanched almonds. Then this was combined with the dried fruit mixture.

    I had greased and carefully double lined a deep 9″ or 23cm diameter circular cake tin. Mary Berry says in her recipe intro that the cake isn’t a very deep one but it definitely makes a big enough cake for our Christmas celebrations. I found the cake mixture went just over halfway up the cake tin and was deep enough for me.

    My oven had been preheated to 140oC and I put the cake tin into the oven on the central shelf. By this time it was 2.30pm and time was cracking on. The cooking time was estimated between 4- 4 1/2 hours so I wanted the cake out by the time we were due to go out.

    Jobs done and now it was time to chill. Every now and again throughout the 4 hours I kept popping backwards and forwards to the kitchen to check on the cake. I’m always worried about fruit cakes burning and to be honest I think I need to get my oven checked out. I don’t think the temperature is as accurate any more. Well my oven is 11 years old and it has had a lot of use over the past few years.

    At 6.30pm the cake was ready to come out of the oven. The fruit looked a bit burnt on top to be honest and I should have covered the cake with some foil or baking parchment to stop it catching. You can never tell with my oven at the moment.

    I’ll be wrapping the cake up in foil and feeding it with brandy every few days or so. In the week leading up to Christmas I will be marzipanning and icing the cake. Watch this space to see it finished!

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

    White Chocolate Percy Pig Cake.

    This cake was an almalgamation of two recipes which I’ve used plenty of times before.  The cake part came from John Whaite’s first book John Whaite Bakes which contains a delicious recipe for a White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake.  The decoration idea came from the second Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook A Year Of Cake which has a fantastic recipe for a Cadbury’s Chocolate Finger and Smartie Cake in it.  This opened up lots of ideas to adapt a design to suit flavours and themes.

    I was off to a Clandestine Cake Club event in Leeds which was held in the historic Tetley building. I remember the days of the brewery being open in my childhood when I used to see the shire horses delivering the beer to the local Leeds pubs.  I was very impressed with the bar and restaurant at The Tetley and hope to go back to look around the exhibition soon.

     The theme for this cake club was Childhood Sweets and I chose to incorporate Percy Pigs on my cake.  Incidentally Percy Pigs just celebrated 25 years which gave me the idea.  I was definitely not a child when Percy Pigs came out but my own two children love them and we always buy a bag if we go on a long train journey. I can’t stop eating them!

    To assemble the cake together I made up some white chocolate buttercream with Lindt White Chocolate and some Sugar and Crumbs White Chocolate and Raspberry natural flavour icing sugar.  I was so excited to use the icing sugar as it is one of Sugar and Crumbs’ new flavours brought out for this summer.  It smelled wonderful and definitely tasted of white chocolate and raspberries, just heavenly.

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    My White Chocolate and Raspberry Percy Pig Cake for The Clandestine Cake Club event I went to a couple of weeks back. The theme was Childhood Sweets.

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    All ready for baking and decorating the cake. I used two different recipes for inspiration. In the end I didn’t put any marshmallows on the cake as there wasn’t room for them.

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    Percy and Penny Pigs. Funny how these favourite sweets have family names. My grandad was called Percy and my mum is called Penny!

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    I used to love Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers but not now. I hate to say it but the white chocolate ones tasted rank.

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    We had our own special room reserved for us at Cake Club.

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    My friend Amy’s beautiful Sweet Shop Neapolitan cake. It tasted and looked beautiful.

    Here are just a few of the photos of my cake and also of some of the other cakes at the event.  It was a wonderful evening and I enjoyed far too much cake! I still had a sugar high the day after!

    Happy Baking.

    Love Sam xx

     SmartCookieSam’s Christmas Baking.

    I dream about baking and love any excuse to get in my kitchen.  But the week before Christmas I just couldn’t get into it. I knew I had lots to make but every time I thought “Right, let’s make that fudge,” something would happen and it would get pushed to the wayside.  I started off the week with a thumping fuzzy headache.  It was brought on by having to get everything I hadn’t done sorted out in three days flat because of all the work commitments leading up to the end of term. In the end I decided I would have to get up at 5.30am and get cracking on what was needed for foodie presents and for our own Christmas food.

    It was a very long day and by the time I sat down at 10pm having cleaned the kitchen floor, I was ready for bed.  These photos showed what I made.

    My Gingerbread House Bundt Cake baked as an alternative to Christmas cake.

    Using a recipe from the Sugar and Crumbs website I made their simple fudge using Salted Caramel icing sugar, condensed milk and butter. So easy to make.

    Brownies always go down well for foodie presents and I baked three different batches, starting with these Mint M&M ones.

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    Brownies baked with Oreo Cookies inside, yum yum!

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    Some baking for us: Mince Pies and homemade sausage rolls.

    For those who don’t like mince pies I baked some peanut butter M&M cookies.  

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    Gingerbread Cupcakes using the scrumptious and delicious smelling Sugar and Crumbs Gingerbread Icing sugar in the buttercream.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

     Raspberry and Lemon Love Heart Cake- The Clandestine Cake Club A Year of Cake February Bakealong.

     

    The Raspberry and Lemon Love Hearts Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club book A Year Of Cake
    Valentine’s Day to me is a great excuse to bake.  I don’t like all the commercialism around Valentine’s Day, though. To me if you want to show someone you love them, its the little things every day, not just on the 14th February. Why wait until the 14th February to buy your loved one a bunch of flowers? They’re usually twice or three times the price! My hubby and I once went out on Valentines Day to dinner and it was a complete let down. The meal wasn’t very good, the tables in the restaurant were crammed close together so you felt like you were listening to other people’s conversations. It was expensive and the following day I went down with a stinking cold. So ever since then we make a nice dinner at home and I might bake a cake. But then again we do that at other times of the year. 

    This year I decided to take part in the Clandestine Cake Club’s monthly A Year of Cake Bakealong. If you see my last post it explains how the Bakealong works. For the February event we have to send our photos in by the end of the month.  I chose to bake Margaret Knox’s Raspberry and Lemon Love Heart cake which is featured in the book to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

    As mentioned in the recipe introduction ” but cake club members know the fastest way to your heart is through your stomach, so it’s an occasion for cakes! Presented with this pink, zingy flavoured fruity gift, your Valentine’s reaction is sure to echo one of the classic  Love Heart messages: All Mine!”

    Last September when the Clandestine Cake Club book A Year Of Cake came out we were invited to a special book launch party in Leeds. Everyone was drawn to Margaret’s beautiful cake with its delicate pastel pink icing. But the real treat was inside- the sponge is bright pink! To match the colour, the flavour is also achieved with real fresh raspberries and a hint of lemon. No wonder we loved the cake and it vanished off the table.

    I couldn’t wait to bake it myself and was glad that I had the February Bakealong to do it. My husband would enjoy the cake itself but he’s not a fan of sugar paste. He could always take it off though.  

    So on Valentine’s Day itself I set to with baking this stunning cake. The cake is baked in two 20cm/ 8″ diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins which were greased and lined with baking parchment circles. 

    To make the cake itself I creamed together butter and sugar. To the creamed mixture I added eggs and self raising flour. When this was done, in went the zest of two lemons and some fresh raspberries. Finally I needed to turn the sponge pink, this was achieved with a few drops of pink gel food colouring. For colouring sponges I always use Dr Oetker gels which you can buy in most major supermarkets. 

    The mixture was divided between the two greased tins and baked for about 25 minutes. So far so good. When I took the cakes out of the oven though I was a bit worried as the top of the sponge didn’t look pink, it was very pale and was browned. I hoped the inside would look better. I thought maybe I hadn’t added enough food colouring but I thought I’d stuck loads in.

    The finished cake though Iots more practice needed with sugarpaste.
      

    When the cakes had cooled I turned them out on to a rack and started to assemble the cake. The filling could be either with raspberry jam or lemon curd along with a simple buttercream. I made up some buttercream and found some raspberry jam in the cupboard. I didn’t have lemon curd so raspberry it had to be! The buttercream and jam were spread onto the cakes, they were layered up together and then onto the next stage of baking. 

    I then had to colour a packet of white sugarpaste myself. I find this a real pain and can never get it to be even coloured, it t always ends up with little streaks in.  For colouring sugar paste I always use  cocktail sticks and post blobs of the concentrated gel into the icing. Then I knead the colour in but always wear disposable catering gloves so the colour doesn’t stain my hands. Before I discovered that tip and got red food colouring on my hand, it looked like I’d had a nasty acciden

    A ribbon around the edge of a cake always covers up my mistakes.

    Yayyyy! The colour did turn out pink after all!

    As you can see from these pictures above my sugarpaste colouring skills still need practice. At least I managed to cover the cake with with the sugarpaste without having a wrestling match with the rolling pin and lots of swearing. A little tip- that’s why ribbons around the edge of a cake always hides any mistakes!

    To finish, I got out my cake smoother to flatten out the surface of the cake and added the Love Heart sweets to the top. There were a few sweets leftover in the packet and lo and behold the children came downstairs when they saw I had spares.   I’m sure they have radar where sweets are concerned.

    So did Mr SmartCookieSam enjoy his cake? No he didn’t because he said it was too sweet. But I took the remains to share out at the end of the Cake Club event I was going to the following night. I thought it tasted fab even though I say so myself. 

    Would I bake this amazing cake again? Of course I would.

    Happy Baking! 

    Love Sam xx