Amazing Cakes #31: Apple, Maple and Walnut Streusel Cake

October 17th 2021.

It’s been over a year since I set myself the challenge of working my way through the bakes in The Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes. I’ve only managed about half of the recipes and it’s getting to the stage where there are some bakes that I might not be able to attempt. These are because they are big celebration cakes which I don’t have the occasion to make a cake like that for and baking all that cake for nothing would be a terrible waste. Over the next month or so I am going to try a couple more recipes which will be suitable and then I will start another challenge.

The Apple,Maple and Pecan Strusel Cake was a big winner.

Now it is Autumn, I am beginning to struggle a bit. I know lots of people love Autumn and Winter but I am not one of those people. I am a Spring and Summer person and dread the clocks going back. Dark nights and cold, damp weather are not my idea of fun. I struggle to get up in the mornings when it is dark. The only way I can embrace the seasonal changes, apart from trying to get out as much as possible for fresh air and exercise is to cook comfort food. I make our Sunday roast and try to make us a Sunday dessert as something to look forward to.

For our Sunday dessert last weekend, I chose to bake an Apple, Maple and Streusel Cake from the Amazing Cakes book. Featured in the Bakers’ Favourites chapter, this gorgeous and gently spiced cake was one Henry made during Series 9. This was one of Henry’s childhood favourite cakes inspired by his family holidays to Germany. I have never been to Germany myself but have tasted several Streusel cakes in the past. They are usually cakes topped with a crumble like topping with added nuts. This version uses chopped walnuts but pecans are a great alternative.

To start baking the cake, I lined and greased the bottom of a 20cm (8″) deep loose bottomed circular cake tin. I then put all the dry ingredients needed into a mixing bowl. These were self raising flour, baking powder, ground mixed spice, ground cardamom, and cinnamon. Then I rubbed cold cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until they became like breadcrumbs. Then I added brown sugar, some chopped apple pieces and some raisins. The recipe stated sultanas or blueberries but I had a load of raisins which needed using up and I didn’t want to waste all my blueberries in a cake. I wanted them for my yoghurt on my breakfast!

In another mixing bowl, I whisked eggs, double cream and vanilla together. This was then tipped into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and the fruit. When this was done, I made the Streusel topping which was quick and easy to make. I rubbed butter, flour, cinnamon and brown sugar together and then stirred in some chopped walnuts.

The cake mixture was spooned in to the prepared tin and then finally the Streusel mixture was sprinkled on top. The cake went into the oven and was baked for just over an hour.

When the cake came out of the oven, the kitchen smelled wonderful. Never mind me moaning about miserable weather, the smell of cinnamon is enough to cheer me up!

The Maple cream cheese frosting finished this cake off beautifully.
This cake was a great way to use some walnut halves I had left over from a previous bake.

I gave the cake a good hour to cool down. While it was cooling, I made up some Maple Icing. This was butter, brown sugar, Maple Syrup and full fat cream cheese mixed together. I filled a piping bag with the mixture and then piped twelve rosettes around the edge of the cake. To finish, I put a walnut half on top of each rosette.

A perfect balance of raisins, apple and nuts in this extremely moreish cake!
A piece for Mr S after work during the week. He really enjoyed it.

In the end we were so full after our main course that we left the cake and didn’t eat any! We didn’t start on it until the Tuesday and believe it or not it was still fresh. It was such a deliciously moist cake, with the aroma of the spices still lingering. I can honestly say this has been one of my favourite things to bake this year.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam. xx

A Bake For All Seasons #2: Jammy Dodgers

3rd October 2021.

I always love Biscuit Week on the Great British Bake Off. It was great to see that this year’s contestants were asked to bake Jammy Dodgers for the Technical Bake. I love making Jammy Dodgers, although mine always look boring. I so need to get a set of those Nordicware Cookie Stamps as featured in the show to get that beautiful pattern on top of the biscuits.

If you are on Twitter, you might have heard of #TwitterBakeAlong which has been running for the last 5 years or so. Jackie (aka The Baking Nanna) and Rob run weekly challenges over on Twitter. During Bake Off Season it becomes #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong and bakers can enter one of the challenges like the contestants bake and submit a photo of their bake on Twitter. As I’m busy a lot with work commitments, I don’t always get to join in but I was able to for this week with my version of Jammy Dodgers.

I used the recipe in The Great British Bake Off: A Bake For All Seasons and I must admit it was different to my standard “roll out” biscuit recipe in that there was added cornflour in the recipe. I also felt that I could have done with double the quantity of dough as to get the quantity of biscuits out of the dough, I had to roll the dough so thinly. I used my KitchenAid mixer to bring the dough together so that I didn’t overwork it.

No way was I going to make my own jam to go inside the biscuits as the original contestants had to. I hadn’t got time for making jam as well. To be different from the traditional, I found some Lemon Curd in the cupboard which needed using up as well as some Cherry Curd which I’d found in a local supermarket. The dark pink colour was so pretty that I thought I’d use it as well. Instead of a heart shape cut out in the middle I looked in my cookie cutter boxes and found a splat type cutter which I’d used on a psychedelic 1970s style cake from a few years ago. I thought it would make a change from the hearts and stars and other shapes you might find in the middle of a Jammy Dodger or those Linzer style cookies.

I took the cookies with me to work and left them in the staff room. I was a bit ashamed of the actual biscuits to be honest. Because they rolled out so thinly, they caught round the edges and baked a lot quicker than expected. But everyone enjoyed them and that was the main thing.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

A Bake For All Seasons #3: Banana and Peanut Butter Loaf.

Sunday October 10th 2021

My version of the Bake For All Seasons Banana, Tahini and Caramel Loaf- nothing like the original!!

I wanted to bake a cake for Sunday afternoon. I had been away for some of the weekend and we weren’t having a full blown Sunday roast but Mr S was going to cook his special steak with new potatoes and salad. I’ve been suffering a bit with my mental health recently. October has been a tricky month and I can’t wait for it to end. I know that baking helps lots of us who are struggling and I’m no exception. I didn’t really need any cake in the house but I needed to have that comforting ritual of baking and creating something.

A slice for Mr S to have with his afternoon cuppa.

I looked in the new Bake Off Book: A Bake For All Seasons to see if there was a simple Autumnal cake I could bake that afternoon that wasn’t too fancy or had weird ingredients I didn’t have in my cupboard. The only real contender was the Banana, Tahini and Caramel Loaf in the Autumn section of the book on page 158. I didn’t have any tahini paste in, though. The only ever time I bought it was a couple of years ago to make some hummous and the rest ended up getting chucked out as my own hummous tasted revolting! I thought what could give a similar effect that was in my cupboard and I thought maybe peanut butter would work. The top of the cake as seen in the recipe photo also shows the loaf sprinkled with caramel sesame seeds and a whole banana peeled and halved as a decoration. This did not appeal to me one bit so I left it off!

To line my loaf tin, I always use the pre-made loaf tin liners available from big supermarkets or shops like Lakeland! They save so much faff! When I had lined that, I melted some butter. When this was cooling, I whisked brown sugar and eggs together. Then this was added to the cooled butter, the peanut butter and some natural yoghurt. Finally I added some mashed bananas.

In another bowl I weighed out and mixed together some dry ingredients: self raising flour, baking powder and cinnamon then folded it carefully into the other ingredients. Finally the mixture was spooned into the the tin and then baked in the oven for around 50 minutes. This was slightly earlier than the recipe suggested but my oven seems to bake a lot quicker.

Leftovers to be cut up and put in a box for later.
I love using the ready made loaf tin liners from Lakeland.

I must admit I didn’t end up trying the banana loaf as I’ve been a bit off my food and under the weather this week. Not Covid, I hasten to add! Mr S had a piece and said it was nice although I pinched 3 of his breakfast bananas to use in the cake. By the time I felt a bit better, what was left of tthe cake had gone off and had to be binned.

I don’t think I’ll attempt to make this version of a banana loaf again unless I do have any left over tahini paste knocking around. I might buy some as Nigella has a tahini cake in one of her recipes from Cook, Eat, Repeat and it seems to be popular. I think I’ll stick to my favourite Annabel Karmel one I’ve been making since my kids were little as that always goes down well with everyone.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

The Great British Bake Off- A Bake For All Seasons Book Review.

October 2021.

It’s always exciting when a brand new Great British Bake Off book is released. I wasn’t sure if there was going to be one this year, what with the pandemic but like last year it was a great surprise when it popped up on Amazon to say there was going to be a new book. This year’s book was released in time for the latest series and there is a slightly different format to it. Instead of being split into categories of bakes, such as cakes, biscuits, etc. the book has been split into sections concentrating on the four seasons.

The latest Great British Bake Off Book: A Bake For All Seasons.

It is great to work around seasonal baking and the delicious produce that is around at different times of the year. I personally try to shop seasonally if I can as I can’t stand watery, tasteless out of season strawberries. I like the certain flavours which evoke different times of the year and when you can use what is growing around you. How I wish I could grow my own veg but I don’t have the space in my back garden. I have managed some strawberries and tomatoes this year and I was so proud of them.

In every Bake Off book it is great to be introduced to that series of contestants and this year’s bunch seem so lovely and genuine. I always enjoy trying out their own recipes which get featured in the book if I can.

Starting with the Spring section, we are looking at bringing in Lenten and Easter festivities as well as pretty cakes which make use of Spring flowers such as primroses as well as seasonal fruit like rhubarb.

What I’d like to bake in Spring:

  • Semlor (Danish Lenten Buns) They look delicious and contain almond paste and cardamom, which are flavours I love.
  • Asparagus, Ham and Cheese Danish Pastries: Mr S loves his Danish pastries and I’m sure he’ll love these with some salad in asparagus season.
  • Ruby Grapefruit Bundt: as a bundt pan addict, I always look to see if there are any bundt recipes in the book first and as I’ve never used grapefruit to bake with before, this one is definitely top of the list.
  • Cherry Blossom Shortbreads: these look so pretty and would make a lovely Easter or Mother’s Day gift.
  • Crystelle’s Chai and Jaggery Cake: I haven’t a clue what jaggery is but I love chai spiced cakes. The icing is coconut flavoured as well which is another of my favourite flavours.
  • Pizza Bianca di Primavera: I love pizza although I haven’t made any homemade ones since the last lockdown. This one has sliced new potato on top of it! I’ve never had potato on top of a pizza before but the flavours sound incredible.
  • Mini Hummingbird Cakes: I just have to try these as I love Hummingbird cake and it will be a good excuse to use my mini 12 hole Victoria sponge tray!
  • Super Seeded Soda Bread: Soda Bread recipes were an absolute necessity last year. Especially on the three times when I had to self isolate and we ran out of bread and I didn’t have yeast with two or three days to go until the online food delivery came. I’d bake bread more often if I wasn’t so busy with work!
  • Chig’s Mango and Coconut Upside Down Cake: I love mangoes and coconuts and this is just a delicious alternative to a pineapple upside down cake.
  • Jairzeno’s Chocolate Mint Cake: Mint Chocolate is my absolute favourite flavour of all. I love the extra glaze layer that is included on Jairzeno’s cake and gives it a beautiful finish.
  • Wild Garlic Flatbreads: Last year I baked flatbreads a lot, especially when we had curries. They were so simple to bake and I think I’ll be looking out for some wild garlic to make these!
  • Hamantaschen (Haman’s Pockets) I’ve never heard of these delicious sounding Jewish biscuits before, which are circles of biscuit filled with jam (traditionally were dates or poppy seeds) and the biscuit folded over to represent Haman’s three pointed hat.

I won’t be making these in Spring:

  • Rhubarb and Custard Tart: I’m not a rhubarb lover, to be honest.
  • Passionfruit Souffles: I find souffles far too fiddly!
  • Spiced Lamb and Filo Pie: I don’t like lamb, especially when it’s cooking as it smells!
  • Prinzeregentetorte: Looks a stunning cake but all those layers make it far too fiddly for me.

I’ll be baking these in Summer:

I’ve already baked the Jammy Dodgers as part of #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong when it was Biscuit week on GBBO.
  • Jammy Dodgers: though mine won’t look as nice as the ones in the book because I need a set of those Nordicware Stampers. UPDATE: I baked these, separate post is coming soon!
  • Cherry and Almond Friands: these would be perfect sat outside in the summer with a cup of tea when fresh cherries are in season.
  • Chocolate and Raspberry Ripple Cheesecake Brownies: These would be ideal for a summer dessert at a BBQ or family gathering.
  • Free-form Tomato Tart: I’ve made something similar from another recipe book and I can see myself making this for a summer dinner sat outside with salad and a glass of rose washed down with it.
  • Strawberry and Clotted Cream Cake: this cake is like Victoria Sponge but on another level with added fresh strawberries and clotted cream. Sounds like heaven to me!
  • Rochica’s Strawberry Topped Cookies and Cream Cake: This looks like a summery version of the Cookies and Cream cake I baked for my son’s birthday last year. I wonder if he would like another one next year?
  • Amanda’s Lemon and Elderflower Palette Cake: I love the flower design on the top of this stunning cake. I definitely might try the cake itself as I love lemon and elderflower flavours.

I won’t be baking these in Summer:

  • Chouxnuts: they look delicious but I don’t have a deep fat fryer or like deep fat frying.
  • Apricot Frangipane Traybake: I wish I liked apricots. Maybe it’s because they’re so fiddly to eat.
  • Cheese, Ham and Piccalilli Pasties: Eww, no I think piccalilli is disgusting. Mr S bought a jar of it a couple of months ago and it made me feel sick just looking at it!

I’ll be baking these in Autumn:

  • Banana, Tahini and Caramel Loaf: this sounds delicious. UPDATE: I’ve baked this now!
  • Toffee Apple Cake: what a beautiful celebration cake for the Autumn with or without the caramel on top.
  • Pear and Walnut Cake: as seen on the front cover, this is a beautiful show stopper bake for an Autumnal celebration.
  • Giuseppe’s Celebration Cake: another stunning showstopper.
  • Jurgen’s Pear and Chocolate Charlotte: what a pretty looking dessert. I need an excuse to make this.
  • Pecan Pie: I love Pecan Pie and it reminds me of my last trip to Canada to visit my family where we had it for dessert!
  • Plum and Ginger Cake: I’m not that keen on eating plums raw but in cakes I love them. This would be an ideal Sunday lunch pudding with custard or cream.
  • Ciabatta Breadsticks: I’m not that skilled at baking bread but I bet my daughter would love to make these with me!
  • Pear Crumble Cake: This would be another perfect Sunday lunch dessert. UPDATE: I’ve made this but with apples instead!
My version of the Banana, Tahini and Caramel Loaf Cake. (Autumn )
My version of the Pear Crumble Cake which actually had apples in it as I didn’t have pears at home!

I won’t be baking these in Autumn:

  • Prue’s Vegan Sausage Rolls: I love sausage rolls and vegan ones too for that matter, but this recipe looks very complicated to me. I will be sticking to my lazy way of making sausage rolls!
  • Fig, Honey and Almond Cake: I wish I liked figs!
  • Apple, Pecan and Miso Caramel Tart: what is the fixation with putting miso in baking at the moment? Sorry, but it’s not for me.

I’ll be baking these in Winter:

  • Parsnip, Maple and Pecan Cake: I’ve never baked with parsnips before!
  • Paul’s Caramel Biscuit Bars: these home made Twixes look gorgeous.
  • Seville Orange Lamingtons: I’ve never made Lamingtons before so I’d love to try these.
  • Panettone: I’ve never baked a panettone before and it would be great to have one as an alternative to mince pies at Christmas.
  • St Clement’s Squares: I love baking these so I know they will go down well.
  • Mincemeat and Marzipan Couronne: perfect at breakfast time over Christmas.
  • Maggie’s Orange and Lemon Cake: I can see this being baked for a winter birthday celebration.

I won’t be baking these in Winter:

I can’t see anything in the Winter section that I will definitely not have a go at. Watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #29: Fondant Fancies

When you hear the name Fondant Fancies you immediately think of Mr Kipling’s yellow, chocolate and pink creations. Or if you live in Yorkshire like me, you might have even tasted the delectable version which Betty’s creates. I must admit I find Fondant Fancies too sweet and sickly, even though I’ve got a sweet tooth. The other week I met my friend at Betty’s and while she had a Fondant Fancy, I tucked into a Fat Rascal! Her Fondant Fancy looked so pretty though, with the icing and delicate pink flowers.

Last Thursday and Friday were my main baking days for SmartCookieSam as I had had my Mum up here visiting. I had an afternoon tea order as well as some brownies and shortbread to go out to customers. I thought of what I could maybe offer as an option on my afternoon teas and Fondant Fancies came into my head. Although I don’t really like eating them, there are plenty of people who do.

For Fondant Fancies you start off by baking a square shaped sponge cake. I did this in one of my square tins I use for my brownies, etc. It was a simple sponge, delicately flavoured with lemon.

As soon as I started baking, I realised I had not got any marzipan in. I only tend to have marzipan in around Christmas for my Christmas cakes and also at Easter for Simnel Cake. I’d been to do my shop the day before and completely forgot. Luckily later on that day I was heading out to the post office to ship my brownies and shortbread and the village shop it was attached to has a wonderful array of baking products. Phew!

After the sponge came out of the oven and I was home after my post office run, I removed the sponge from the tin. It had to be cooled but it was so hot in my kitchen that nothing was cooling down.

To the sponge I added a layer of apricot jam and then a layer of the marzipan on the top. The marzipan was very sticky to work with and my hands felt so hot. I had to dust the surfaces very thickly with icing sugar to stop the marzipan from sticking to it when I was rolling it out. I then put it on top of the sponge and trimmed round the edges of it.

The next job was to make up a batch of buttercream. This buttercream needed to be put in the fridge to harden up slightly but this didn’t work because as soon as I got it out of the fridge it became runny again.

The sponge cake was then cut into 16 equal squares and on top of each square I put a blob of buttercream. This blob is to create the little hump you get in the middle of a traditional fondant fancy.

Of course when you are tired, you misread recipes. This one being a complicated recipe with zillions of steps should have been read carefully and I didn’t. I was meant to put the cakes into the fridge to harden up again for 20 minutes but I didn’t. This then made the next steps more tricky. I had to crumb coat each of the four sides of the fondant fancies with the rest of the buttercream. This was very awkward. How do you hold the blinking things and ensure that they are all covered without getting your hands covered in more buttercream?

Now for another complicated part. The recipe asked for roll out fondant icing or sugar paste which to make runny you have to put in a mixer with water to make it runny. I felt this made it extremely messy and didn’t give the effect I wanted. I wondered whether I should have bought some fondant icing sugar instead and coloured it with food colouring. I started off trying to colour the pink icing first. It took ages to get even a hint of pink with the food colouring I have at the moment (a mixed box of Wilton food colours, which to be honest I’m not a fan of, compared to the likes of Sugarflair, etc.) The cakes from not been hard enough through not being in the fridge, were difficult to hold and the icing just went everywhere. It was meant to pour over the cakes but it didn’t. It was too thick despite me following how much water to add to the icing. I tried spreading it with a small pallette knife but that made it even messier!

Then I tried to colour the rest of the icing yellow. Unfortunately the yellow in my food colouring set doesn’t bring the icing out a deliciate pastel yellow, it came out as this flourescent, lurid yellow like you would have on a high-viz vest! You’d be able to spot it from the International Space Station. By this time I had given up caring and so long as I’d got the bloody things iced and all the stuff cleared up, I didn’t care what colour it was.

Finally, I used some left over lemon drizzle icing for the pink fondant fancies which seemed to pipe on ok through my plastic bottle. But the melted chocolate was having none of it and just wouldn’t go through the hole. It just clogged up the whole time.

There’s a couple of lessons to be learned here: Don’t make Fondant Fancies when you are short of time or are tired. Always read the recipe and use ready made fondant icing sugar, not sugarpaste watered down.

I did taste one of the Fondant Fancies and it was sooooooo sickly sweet. Not my favourite bake to eat or to make, I’m afraid.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #28: Mint Chocolate Roulade

Baking roulades and Swiss Rolls always fills me with dread. They look fiddly and messy whenever I make them and the filling never looks neat when I roll them up. Or the actual sponge cracks so much.

Roulades are usually made without flour and fat and are whisked sponges baked in a flat rectangular cake tin. I have a new Swiss Roll tin but it gets used for all manner of things including roast potatoes. Before using it for cakes, I make sure it has been cleaned carefully and I always line it with baking parchment. With this cake being flour free, it is also gluten free.

Last Sunday I had my mum visiting for a few days and planned a roast chicken dinner followed by a dessert. Now it’s usually just Mr S and I at home on a Sunday (our daughter is at work and our son is at uni), we don’t usually do roasts for ourselves. I thought having my mum to stay was the perfect excuse to have a roast as well as a pudding after!

The Chocolate Roulade as featured in The Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes looked stunning, yet fairly quick to bake. However, looking in my baking cupboard I didn’t have any plain/ dark chocolate left. I did have two bars of mint chocolate which I love. Whenever we go up to the Isle of Arran on holiday I buy bars of Mackies chocolate in the Co-op there. Where I live in North Yorkshire, you can get Mackies icet cream but not the chocolate. Mint is just one of the best flavours out there, I love it! So a Chocolate Mint Roulade it had to be, then!

First things first was to prepare the Swiss Roll tin for baking. As I said before, it was cleaned carefully as I didn’t want residues of olive oil on it from the last time I used it. Then I lined it with some baking paper. At the same time I also cut out another sheet of baking paper to use to help me roll up the roulade later.

I then melted the mint chocolate in the microwave carefully. The recipe said to do this on the stove in a bowl over simmering water, but I find it easier to do in a microwave if I do it in small stages. Then, in my KitchenAid I whisked egg yolks and caster sugar together until the mixture had turned into a thick type mousse.

As the eggs had had to be separated, in another bowl I whisked up the egg whites. They had to be whisked up until they were stiff peaks. These egg whites were then folded into the whisked yolks and sugar mixture. Finally I folded in some cocoa powder.

When the roulade was ready, I put it on a wire rack to cool down but left it in the tin until it was completely cool to move it. I still managed to make it crack as I got it out of the tin. Using the spare piece of baking parchment sprinkled with a little icing sugar, I turned the roulade out onto it upside down. I then filled it with whipped cream. As I kept doing this, the roulade started cracking. The instructions said that it was normal for it to crack. But the recipe book photo didn’t have the massive cracks that mine did! Upon looking at the roulade from above, it resembled a giant long poo! Tasted amazing though, and I sneaked a couple of off cuts!

The complete mixture was then poured into the tin and spread carefully so that it touched each corner of the tin. I then baked it in my fan oven at 160oC for roughly just over 20 minutes.

A recipe I think I will bake again as it was quite quick to make. I just need to work on the good old presentation.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #27: White Chocolate and Blueberry Layer Cake.

The White Chocolate and Blueberry Layer Cake from the Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Amazing Cakes.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve tried out a recipe from The Great British Bake Off The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes. Most of the recipes I have left over in the challenge are the more complicated ones or the ones you would bake for a special occasion. Can’t imagine me baking a three tier wedding cake just for my family to have with a cuppa!

This week I have had a lot of baking to do for smartcookiesam.com, my online baking business. These have been brownies, blondies and cookies so it was a change to bake a cake for once! I chose to bake the White Chocolate and Blueberry Cake in the Chocolate chapter of the Amazing Cakes book.

The cake is a three layer blueberry sponge filled with white chocolate buttercream and finished with another layer of buttercream. The top decoration is some more white chocolate buttercream but with blueberry jam swirled in the icing to add flavour and to turn the icing a beautiful shade of lilac.

As with baking these recipes, I look to see what ingredients I have or need to get in. I had to buy double cream in for the recipe but I didn’t have any blueberry jam. I used some blackcurrant jam we had bought on holiday on the Isle of Arran instead which is gorgeous.

After doing my blondie and cookie order, I adjusted the oven termperature to 180oC fan which was stipulated in the recipe. I then thought this was a bit too hot, so I reduced it to 160o.

The cake itself was simple to make itself in a stand mixer: unsalted butter, caster sugar, vanilla extract, free range eggs and self raising flour mixed together to create the cake batter. Then I added in the blueberries, folding them in carefully until they were combined but taking care that they wouldn’t get squashed! I prepared three 20cm/ 8″ diameter sandwich tins with greaseproof lining and Cake Release Spray.

While the cake was baking, I made the buttercream in my KitchenAid mixer. First I whipped the butter for a few minutes. While that was being whipped, I melted some white chocolate in the microwave. I know some don’t approve of using the microwave method but it works for me if I do it in short blasts of time! When the white chocolate was melted and still warm, I stirred some double cream into it. The butter was now ready for me to add the icing sugar to it. No matter how hard I try I still get icing sugar all over the worktops and on the floor even on the lowest speed on the mixer! Finally, when this was blended I added in the white chocolate cream mixture to whip up into the buttercream.

The recipe time said to bake the cake for 20-25 minutes. I checked on it after 20 minutes and I noticed they were already done and coming away from the sides of the tin. I quickly got them out of the oven and onto the cooling racks.

When it was time to ice the cake I noticed the buttercream was a bit runny. It was really hot in my kitchen and I had no spare space in my fridge to chill the cake between it’s crumb coat and needing the top layer on. I also found it impossible to do the white chocolate shavings myself as the chocolate was melting in my hot hands! When the crumb coat was on, I then split the remaining icing in two. One half went as part of the topping and then the remaining part had some of the blackcurrant jam added to it to turn it lilac. I made up a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and then piped the rose swirls on the top of the cake. As the kitchen got hotter and hotter, so did the blooming icing which drove me crazy! It was definitely too runny for my liking. The white chocolate curls were meant to go on the side of the cake but I found this far too fiddly. Instead i just sprinkled them on top.

Would I bake this cake again? Yes I would, although there are a couple of issues I have with the recipe. I think the oven temperatures are too hot and also the cooking times were too long. This is definitely a special occasion cake as you need three packets of butter, some double cream and 400g of white chocolate as well as a huge box of icing sugar! Definitely not a recipe you would bake every day. But worth it when you do. I also think that you could change the flavours by using raspberries and raspberry jam instead of blueberries.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam. xx

Amazing Cakes #21: Cherry Cake

I’m trying my hardest to do a baking challenge: baking all the recipes in the Great British Bake Off book “The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes”, which was published to tie in with 2019’s series. What I hadn’t realised was that because some of the recipes had come from previous series, I’d actually baked a couple of the cakes before.

This is what happened with the Cherry Cake from the Classic Cakes chapter. It originally was a Technical Bake from the 2014 series and one of Mary Berry’s recipes. The original post about this bake is here:

Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake- Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge.

I love glace cherries especially when they go together with ground almonds to give that “Bakewell” flavour and it was even better to bake the cake in one of my Nordicware bundt pans. I used my Elegant Heart for the recipe and also another time exactly five years ago when I was at a Clandestine Cake Club event at the beautiful Carleton Towers near Selby. Today, as I type its a Sunday afternoon and I could just do with baking the cherry sponge again. But we used the last of our eggs up this morning on our cooked breakfast. I’m not going out just to get eggs as it’s food shopping day tomorrow.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #20: Vegan Marble Cake

It’s been about three weeks since I baked this cake.  I wanted to try out another recipe from The Big Book of Amazing Cakes but not to make anything which would be time consuming and fiddly to do. I wanted something which would double up like a pudding with a scoop of ice cream.

Looking through the book, I found a perfect recipe for a Vegan Marble Cake in the Free From chapter.  This would work out perfectly for me as I had a lot of dairy free spread to use up and was very low on eggs before going to the supermarket.  Although I am not vegan, I try out lots of vegan recipes and both my children have lactose intolerance so we have oat milk in the house. To be honest I have been trying to cut down on dairy too recently and I now have oat milk in my porridge and coffee.  Just wish I could manage it in my tea. 

Baking the Vegan Marble Cake was a good excuse to get out one of my Nordicware bundt pans.  The accompanying illustration to the recipe shows the cake baked in the Jubilee pan which is pretty but I chose my Harlequin one instead to make a change. 

The cake was simple to make.  I had to put soya milk mixed together with a spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a jug and left for a few minutes to curdle or react.  But I chose to use oat milk instead as we didn’t have soya.  No idea whether this made a difference or not!

I then beat together some caster sugar, the dairy free spread and some vanilla extract with my hand held mixer.  The curdled oat milk got added to it followed by some sifted self raising flour and some baking powder. 



After this was all mixed together, I got another bowl out and put about one third of the mixture into it.  To this I added some cocoa powder. 

The recipe suggested using two separate piping bags and piping both the vanilla and chocolate mixtures into the tin carefully.  I didn’t want to waste two of my piping bags so I just spooned the mixture into the bundt tin instead.  I guess it didn’t look as neat but the marble effect was still there!

The cake went into the oven at 180oC fan but I was concerned at the baking time.  Most times when I bake using my bundt pans, the cakes tend to take about 45 minutes to an hour.  This recipe stated 25 minutes. I checked the cake after 25 minutes and it was still raw in places! I ended up keeping it in the oven for 45 minutes.  I wonder if anyone else has had this happen to them if they have baked the recipe?



We were far too full to eat cake after our Sunday roast so I cut the cake up and put it into a tin.  It got eaten over the next week and was a real pick me up with a cup of tea or coffee when I fancied the munchies getting in from work.

I’ll definitely bake this again.

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx