Raspberry Cranachan Cake- Clandestine Cake Club “A Year Of Cake January Bakealong” 

  My regular readers might have seen that I’m a member of the Clandestine Cake Club and that last year I was lucky enough to have two recipes published in A Year Of Cake, the second book featuring members’ recipes.

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Raspberry Cranachan Cake- recipe by Lynn Hill, founder of The Clandestine Cake Club.

Lynn Hill, the founder of the Clandestine Cake Club loves to get members baking. I for one don’t need any excuse but I was excited when Lynn introduced the monthly A Year Of Cake Bakealong on the club website.  Lynn has organised a monthly event, where members are invited to choose a cake corresponding to that particular month in the book.  At the end of the month the participants send their photos of their bakes to Lynn and she does a write up about them.  As there are lots of yummy recipes in the book I was keen to have a go at baking some more of them.

For the January Bakealong there were seven mouthwatering recipes to choose from but I chose Lynn’s own recipe for Raspberry Cranachan Cake. It’s featured as a homage to Robbie Burns and to Burns Night.  My husband’s birthday is at the end of January and I wanted to bake him a cake. He doesn’t have a sweet tooth but likes traditional cakes like Victoria Sponges and Coffee and Walnut cakes. He doesn’t like cakes covered in sugarpaste or overly sweet ones.  I thought the Raspberry Cranachan cake would fit the bill, it was a sponge type cake and it also contains whisky!

According to the recipe introduction the cake is based on all the flavours of the traditional Scottish dessert Cranachan which contains “raspberries, whipped cream, whisky and honey topped with toasted oatmeal. Here it is reinvented as a cake which is just as boozy and creamy as the real thing, not to mention full of Scottish warmth and flavour,”

On my husband’s birthday I ended up with a day at home catching up on the jobs and chores that had been mounting up. Once I’d tidied up and walked the dog I started to bake. I had all the ingredients I needed for the cake including oats, clear honey, flaked almonds, raspberries and double cream as well as all the usual cake staples such as sugar. There was the small problem of the whisky though.  The recipe needed 75ml of whisky plus an extra three tablespoonfuls. I thought my hubby would go ape if I used his special Glennfiddich so I was glad there was a half bottle of Famous Grouse left. Goodness knows where that came from, think one of us won it in a raffle but it did the trick.  My hubby also knows if someone has been at his whisky!

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Just look at that stunning Cranachan topping!

The cake’s oat topping had to be made first and cooled down.  It was baked on a lined baking tray. It felt like I was baking granola as first I put the honey to heat through in a saucepan then added some oats and nuts to the mixture. They were tossed to make them evenly coated with the honey and finally a tablespoonful of whisky got added in. Once the nut topping had baked I left it to cool down while I got on with the rest of the cake.

Butter and sugar were creamed together, then eggs and flour were added in gradually. After that some rolled oats and more whisky were added to the mix.  Two 20cm/ 8″ loose bottomed sandwich tins were greased and lined with the cake mixture being divided between the tins. After about 25 minutes in the oven they were ready.

When the cake came out of the oven and was cooling I whipped up some double cream, adding a tablespoonful of whisky to it at the end. It smelled very alchololic but I couldn’t wait to show the cake to my husband and see if he could guess the secret ingredient.

What a boozy cake but I couldn’t wait to assemble it. I added in some seedless raspberry jam to the filling along with half the whisky cream and some fresh raspberries.  When the two cakes were sandwiched on top of one another I spread the remaining whisky cream on top, scattered on the toasted oats and nuts, then finally finised with the rest of the raspberries.  I’m meant to be on a health kick (meant being the operative word here?!)but who could resist a piece of this delicious cake?

Mr SmartCookieSam loved his birthday cake and so did I!  Our two teenage kids weren’t impressed by the thought of a cake with nuts and whisky in it so they didn’t eat any. We could both taste the whisky in the cake but it wasn’t overpowering.

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A perfect birthday cake for my husband. He said no to the candles though!

Will I be baking the Raspberry Cranachan Cake again? You bet, it was delicious!

To find out more about the fabulous Clandestine Cake Club then visit their website. With over 199 clubs and counting worldwide, there might be one near you!

Clandestine Cake Club

The Clandestine Cake Club: A Year Of Cake is to be found on Amazon and in all good book retailers like Waterstones, WHSmiths and is also for sale in Tesco and Morrisons.  Local retailers may have it too!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Oreo Rosette Cake

Back in the last week of August I finally was free to go along to one of Wharfedale Clandestine Cake Club’s events.  This was the first time I’d managed to get along, there was always something else happening.  Thankfully being the summer holidays I had more time and I was free to go along being as the event was on a Thursday night.  We met up in Otley and the cake theme for this event was “Go On, Surprise Me”!

I thought of baking a cake which had a pattern inside or was a rainbow cake but I also wanted to bake something I had never baked before.  I scoured my recipe books and fell upon a pretty looking Oreo Cookie Cake with rosette swirls of buttercream in the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  This recipe is by Helen Costello from St Helen’s Clandestine Cake Club and had originally been baked for an American themed cake event. I had a bag of Oreo cookie pieces in my baking cupboard which I had bought in an American candy shop a couple of days earlier.  The cake had Oreo pieces crushed inside the cake and I thought that the pieces were hidden inside covered up by the rosette buttercream piping.  So the cake would have its surprise after all!

On with the baking.  I started to bake the cake the day before the event by greasing two of my 8″ diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins.  The cake itself was baked by beating butter and sugar together until light and creamy.  The cake used seven egg whites and no yolks so it was great fun separating them.. NOT! After that I added in vanilla extract, some self raising flour and then finally added in some crushed Oreo pieces.

The cakes baked for about 45-50 minutes in my fan oven.

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The Oreo sandwich cakes cooling down on the worktop.

On the morning of the event I made up the vanilla frosting.  I spread some frosting on the top of one of the cakes and sandwiched it to the other one.  Then I coated the top and the sides of the cake.  Unfortunately the frosting quantity wasn’t enough to go round and I only managed to piped the rosettes on the top of the cake.  I was very disappointed with my rustic decorating skills.

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Spreading the vanilla frosting on one of the cakes.
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The two Oreo cookie cakes on top of one another.
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The decorated cake with it’s messy sides.

Once I saw the finished cake I was ashamed and disappointed with my cake wreck.  So unfortunately my surprise ingredient ended up being sprinkled around the bottom of the cake so it would detract away from the messy sides of the cake.  The top ended up with more Oreos being thrown on top of it and then as suggested in the recipe about sprinkling your cake with edible lustre dust.  I did have some gold and silver lustre dust in my cupboard last Christmas but it had all gone so I had to use my lilac edible glitter instead. I was a bit heavy handed with it as you can see!

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View from the top. I don’t know what possessed me to chuck all that edible glitter on the top of it, though!

There were lots of lovely cakes at the event and I enjoyed lots of different surprises.  From sweetie pinata cakes to a chocolate cake containing quinoa, we were well and truly spoilt.  We had some delicious cakey leftovers to take home and I made sure I took some home for my family to enjoy as much as I did.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Amaretto Cream Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.

This was a blog post I started writing at the beginning of January but ended up being sidetracked by other commitments.  I remembered only today, a month later about this bake. So better late than never, I suppose! I’d forgotten about the blog post but not about this yummy cake.  So this what I had started to write a month ago!

Last Sunday I decided to try and use up a pot of cream that was unopened in our fridge from Christmas.  For some reason I’d bought more than we needed.  As we always have a pudding after our Sunday roast, it had to be something which involved double cream.  To me who adores anything full of cream, this was like heaven on earth!

I asked my hubby and children what they would like and they said they liked Victoria Sponge.  I love Victoria Sponges but I wanted to make something a bit different.  Inspiration came from my fabulous Clandestine Cake Club book, which to me was my favourite baking book of 2013.  I’m not just saying this as a CCC Member and former group organiser.  It genuinely, for me was the best baking book I had seen on the shelves in a long time and I still have lots on my list to try out in the coming months!  I chose to bake Carmela Hayes‘ Amaretto Cream Cake which not only features Amaretto liqueur but Amaretti biscuits.  As a cream and an almond lover, this just had to be done!

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A bowlful of naughty but nice Amaretto Cream.

The Amaretto cake was made in a similar way to a Victoria Sponge with the four main ingredients- butter, sugar, self raising flour and eggs. Added to this were some crushed Amaretti biscuits.  I had bought a box of these a couple of months ago when I planned to make the cake and not got round to it.  Judging by my sweet tooth standards and my kids’ reputation for cleaning out the baking cupboard full of treats, I was gobsmacked the biscuits were still there in an unopened packet!

The mixture was soon made up in my KitchenAid mixer and placed into two sandwich tins.  They went into the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Trouble was as I was rushing round I forgot to set my timer going and also didn’t look at the clock to see what time the cakes went in.  I ended up having to guess.  I think the cakes were slightly overdone as they had come away from the tin at the edge.  Oh dear.

Once the cakes had cooled and had been removed from the tin, I spread the Amaretto cream on one of the layers and then sandwiched them together.  It was very tempting to stick my finger in the bowl of cream and have a sneaky taste.

In the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, Carmela’s gorgeous cake is pictured with a cocoa powder star on top. I did not have a cake stencil big enough for the top of my cake so I just got out my sieve.  It didn’t look very professional but it did taste lovely. To me, that is what really matters!

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The finished Amaretto Cream Cake. Sandwiched together with luscious Amaretto whipped cream and finished with a dusting of cocoa powder.
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The inside of the cake. Lots of cream filling inside, just how I like it!
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A slice for Sunday lunch dessert. It was delicious.

Mocha Marble Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a quick pudding or dessert to bake for Sunday lunch.  I had always wanted to bake the Mocha Marble Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook after tasting it when my friend had made it for one of our local cake club events.  It had gone down very well with everyone who tried a slice of it (me included!). Not only did it taste good but it looked good too.  Three months later and I finally got round to baking this scrumptious cake.  I knew all of my family would like it so I was onto a winner.

Here’s how it was made:

The two flavourings needed to make the Mocha Marble Cake.  One contains cocoa powder dissolved in boiling water, the other contains coffee granules also dissolved in water.
The two flavourings needed to make the Mocha Marble Cake. One contains cocoa powder dissolved in boiling water, the other contains coffee granules also dissolved in water.

 

I greased two sandwich tins, these were 7" diameter ones.
I greased two sandwich tins, these were 7″ diameter ones.
Into the mixer went some butter and caster sugar.
Into the mixer went some butter and caster sugar.
This was creamed together
Creaming the caster sugar and butter together.
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Adding the eggs and then the flour to the mixture.
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The mixture was then beaten until thoroughly combined.
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The mixture was divided equally into two separate bowls so that I could add the two flavourings.
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I added the cocoa powder mixture to one bowl, the coffee mixture to the other.

I then put the different cake mixes into each tin spoon by spoon so that there was a good swirl of each. I thought there wasn’t too much of a contrast between each colour on this cake and I must admit I rushed getting the cake into the oven.  I must’ve swirled it too much or something.  The cake baked quite quickly at the usual time for a sponge cake of that size for about 25 minutes.  Once it had started cooling down I made some buttercream up with butter, icing sugar and some coffee granules which had been dissolved in boiling water.  There was ample icing to fill the cake and to ice both the top and the sides.

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The finished cake. I would have liked to have decorated the top of the cake with some chocolate covered coffee beans but I didn’t have any left. Instead I found some Dr Oetker gold dragees. I like these gold balls because they are chewy ones, rather than the ones which hurt your teeth!
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A slice cut ready and waiting to be served for pudding.
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The rest of the cake. Sadly the marble effect didn’t show up very well once the cake was cooked. It tasted delicious though.

The cake lasted well for a couple of days in an airtight tin, though it was demolished by my family I only got a small slice of it. I will definitely be making this again.  My hubby loves coffee cake so it could be a contender for his birthday cake next month!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Sticky Toffee Cake.

About three weeks ago we had a special family Sunday meal at our house for my Dad and step-mum.  After some gammon which was the smallest joint ever and had to be padded out with pigs in blankets and lots of veg, I had to think of a pudding that everyone would like.

When it’s cold, dark and miserable outside I love nothing more than Sticky Toffee Pudding.  It’s simple to make yet tastes gorgeous and most people I know love eating it.  I wanted to try out the Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Cake in The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook as the photo in the book looked absolutely mouthwatering.  The recipe was created by Jane Edgar who is a member of the  Pudsey and West Leeds Clandestine Cake Club. It also came with a separate toffee sauce which would work really well to cater for everyone’s tastes.  My step mum can’t eat cream which is in the toffee sauce so this was perfect for her.  She could eat the cake without the sauce and have custard if she wanted to instead.

First of all I had to put some chopped, stoned dates into a pan with some milk and water.  These had to cook until all the liquid had been absorbed.
First of all I had to put some chopped, stoned dates into a pan with some milk and water. These had to cook until all the liquid had been absorbed.
Once the liquid had been absorbed, I removed the dates from the heat and added some bicarbonate of soda.
Once the liquid had been absorbed, I removed the dates from the heat and added some bicarbonate of soda.
The bicarbonate of soda fizzed up when it was added to the date mixture.  It was fun to watch this happen!
The bicarbonate of soda fizzed up when it was added to the date mixture. It was fun to watch this happen!
Into my mixer went Pure Soya spread and  soft light brown sugar.  This was creamed together, then eggs were added to the mixture gradually.
Into my mixer went Pure Soya spread and soft light brown sugar. This was creamed together, then eggs were added to the mixture gradually.
Sifting in some flour.
Sifting in some flour.
Folding in the date mixture with a teaspoonful of vanilla extract.
Folding in the date mixture with a teaspoonful of vanilla extract.
The mixture was then spooned into a prepared cake tin.  This was a 20cm round cake tin.
The mixture was then spooned into a prepared cake tin. This was a 20cm round cake tin.
After the cake baked in the oven for about 45 minutes it was left to cool out on the worktop.  It came out a lovely dark golden colour.
After the cake baked in the oven for about 45 minutes it was left to cool out on the worktop. It came out a lovely dark golden colour.
While the cake was cooling I made the toffee sauce.  I heated double cream, brown sugar and butter together in a saucepan.
While the cake was cooling I made the toffee sauce. I heated double cream, brown sugar and butter together in a saucepan.
The cooled cake was put onto my stand and the sauce into a separate jug.  In the recipe book Jane, the recipe creator suggests pouring the sauce all over the top.  I chose to serve it separately so my step-mum could still eat some.
The cooled cake was put onto my stand and the sauce into a separate jug. In the recipe book Jane, the recipe creator suggests pouring the sauce all over the top. I chose to serve it separately so my step-mum could still eat some.
Here is the separate jug of toffee sauce.  I doubled the quantities suggested in the recipe as the toffee sauce would be great with some ice cream for the kids.
Here is the separate jug of toffee sauce. I doubled the quantities suggested in the recipe as the toffee sauce would be great with some ice cream for the kids.
All ready and waiting to be eaten.  Yum yum!
All ready and waiting to be eaten. Yum yum!

The Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Cake really lived up to it’s name.  It was delicious and everyone enjoyed their piece of cake.  We also had some Kelly’s Clotted Cream Ice cream to serve with it which was perfect.  There was even some left over for my hubby to eat after his tea the night after.

Definitely one I will bake again and again as it’s perfect for a Sunday lunch or a dinner party and I found it easy to bake.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Mocha Hedgehog Birthday Cake.

Who had a chocolate hedgehog birthday cake as a child?  I can’t remember having one myself but I do remember my mum making me a Mr Greedy cake when I was about 6 or 7!  It was iced with pink buttercream and I loved it as I was a huge fan of the Mr Men.  (The Little Misses hadn’t been invented then, shows how old I am doesn’t it?)  I have made chocolate hedgehog cakes for others though I never made one for my own children.  They ended up with things like pirate ships and mermaids.

Both my Dad and my step-mum celebrate their birthdays in December and with it being close to Christmas they sometimes miss out on their own birthday cakes.  So as they were coming over to our house for a birthday dinner I decided they just had to have a fun birthday cake.

I decided to test out the Chocolate Mocha Hedgehog Cake recipe from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  It was baked in a different way to the way I had baked mine.  I had used a half sphere mould or a pudding basin to give the rounded shape in the past.  This recipe involved baking a round sandwich cake and cutting it in half.  It had the extra flavour of the coffee in it and I was pleased that it was a chocolate buttercream for the icing rather than a ganache.  My step mum can’t eat cream so a ganache topping was out.

Starting off the cake- I put butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a spoonful of Camp coffee essence into my KitchenAid.
Starting off the cake- I put butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a spoonful of Camp coffee essence into my KitchenAid.
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I greased and lined one of my 20cm diameter cake tins.
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The cake mixture was ready to spoon into the tin.
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Once the mixture was in the tin, I levelled it with a spatula and put it in the oven to bake.
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Out of the oven and cooling down on the side. The cake took about 35 minutes to bake.
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Once it had cooled down I cut the cake in half vertically so that it made two semi-circles.
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Now, on with the filling and icing. This was made by beating margarine, a spoonful of Camp Coffee, icing sugar and cocoa powder together in the mixer.

Now to assemble the hedgehog cake.  I sandwiched the two halves together using some of the mocha chocolate icing. So far so good.  When I put the cake on its side it definitely did not look like a hedgehog.  It looked far too flat.  I was meant to carve some cake off each side but me being thick couldn’t work out WHICH side I was meant to cut.  The hedgehog looked like it had been squashed trying to squeeze through a gate or door!  Oh well.  Also the recipe said to use two bags of chocolate buttons but it did not specify which size bag to use.  I thought it meant the standard size bags you buy individually.  I only just had enough buttons to cover my flat hedgehog.  To create the hedgehog’s eyes and nose I used some Skittles.  The recipe mentioned using Smarties but I hadn’t got any so Skittles had to do.  The eyes looked a bit small and lost, so I tried to make a big nose.  It looked a right mess.  My son came in and started laughing at the hedgehog saying it looked stupid.

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My flat and rather cross-eyed hedgehog.
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I only just had enough Chocolate Buttons to cover the cake and give the hedgehog his prickles.
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I thought this could be an ideal shape for a mouse in future.

My Dad and step mum loved the cake and we all had a little bit after dinner. They then took most of it home in a plastic box to finish it off. As the cake had the coffee flavour it wouldn’t be ideal for very young children, better for someone who is a child at heart.  I really enjoyed the cake, despite it’s appearance and it tasted fab.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cakes

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake (back) and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake (back) and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

A few weeks back I wanted to use up a tin of pumpkin puree which had been lurking in my baking cupboard. My family don’t like pumpkin pie so I looked through my recipe books and found a few recipes which would help me use this tin.  I had made a Coconut Pumpkin Bar cake from the latest Hummingbird Bakery cookbook before but wanted to try something different.

So, it was raining outside, it was cold and miserable.  The dog had been walked and I wanted to crack on before the kids came home off the school bus.  I found two recipes I liked, the first was a square cake from the fab (and much used in this house) The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, and another from the brilliant latest offering from Lorraine Pascale: A Lighter Way To Bake.  In Lorraine’s book she has a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.  Luckily each recipe used half the tin of pumpkin puree so I had enough to make both recipes!

First up was the whole Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake from the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  Here’s how it was made:

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Plain flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt were added into a large mixing bowl.
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The recipe called for two different types of sugar: caster sugar and soft dark, brown sugar. I didn’t have any brown sugar so I used golden caster sugar instead.
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In another bowl I started weighing out the dry ingredients for the cupcakes. These were flour, golden caster sugar (no brown spare again), baking powder, ground ginger, mixed spice and cinnamon.
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Here are the “wet” ingredients for the whole cake. I whisked together eggs, sunflower oil and maple syrup. The canned pumpkin mixture was added afterwards and turned it orange!
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On to the “wet” ingredients for the cupcakes, this was melted butter, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla extract. After that the canned pumpkin was whisked into the mixture.
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Here are the cupcakes ready to go into the oven. I love using these muffin cases which I bought in a pack from Booths which contained 4 dozen different coloured tulip cases. They look like the ones you see in Starbucks or Costa!
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I’m glad my son was still at school when I was making these cakes. If he had seen the pumpkin puree going into it. The last time he saw pumpkin puree he said it looked like cat sick. He has a point…
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The mixture for the whole cake. All ready to be spooned into a square tin.
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Here is the finished result, the large square cake cut up into slices. There was a cream cheese frosting to go with the recipe which was meant to be spread over the top of the cake. I thought I would pipe swirls on it but this wasn’t a good idea. For a start there wasn’t enough icing and it came out very messy. Finally I sprinkled chopped pecan nuts onto the top of the icing.
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Top view of the whole Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake.
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Oh, go on then! A sneaky piece with a mid afternoon cuppa. Very nice it was too, a lovely spicy flavour which was just perfect for a cold Autumnal day.
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The cream cheese frosting went on top of the cupcakes. As it was a lighter bake recipe there was a smaller amount of frosting. This suits me down to the ground as I find cupcake frosting far too sweet for my liking even though I make it for others! A pecan half adds the finishing touch.
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Broken open to see what the cake looked like inside, what a lovely colour.
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Ooops! Another one bites the dust!

Overall I was very impressed with the way the two recipes turned out, though my personal favourite has to be the cupcakes.  They were perfect.  They weren’t too sweet but provided me with a cakey fix.  My hubby and kids don’t really like pumpkin so I didn’t tell them that there was pumpkin in the cakes.  They were none the wiser!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx