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

Carrot Cake: Amazing Cakes #19


Hi everyone! I’ve realised I’ve not been on my blog and updated it for well over two months!  Happy New Year to you all for a start! Not only that but it hasn’t been a great start to 2021 has it? The pandemic and the latest lockdown aside, I always find January and February really difficult.  I know I’m not alone in struggling with SAD and the depressing, miserable rainy weather we have but this year it has been doubly hard.  There has been another reason for the lack of blogging: I am currently setting up a little business selling cookies and other treats online! So watch this space!  This is something I have wanted to do for years but I never had the time due to work commitments in the day job.  Leading up to Christmas I was working long 10 hour shifts in a day nursery with a 40 minute commute each way. I had no time for my family and I was relying on Mr S to cook dinner. It got to Christmas and when I realised that I had the first night’s decent sleep in ages, I realised something had to give.  So for now I am supply teaching in local primary schools part time and hopefully trying to achieve part of my dream of baking for a living. I feel like a different person!

Looking back in the drafts on the blog I found I had a post for Carrot Cake.  It was a shock to look back and realise I’d actually baked this cake on 30th November.  This Carrot Cake was another recipe from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes and do you know I can’t even remember why I baked it. I think it ended up at work for the other staff to eat to keep them going! I don’t remember eating any of it. But I do remember it not lasting long.

This carrot cake recipe contains sultanas but I guess you could swap them for nuts, such as pecans or walnuts if you aren’t keen on dried fruit.  I left the sultanas in as I don’t like taking products with nuts into work for fear of allergies even though no one had a nut allergy at the time. Other flavour in the carrot cake was created with the zest of an orange and also with ground mixed spice.

The frosting is a traditional cream cheese frosting flavoured with orange and vanilla paste.  I “cheated” by buying the carrot decorations in my local supermarket as I didn’t want to go out and buy sugarpaste and colour it myself for just these decorations. The original recipe illustration in the Amazing Cakes book had three real, tiny carrots poking out of the cake and with added cocoa powder and chopped hazelnuts to look like soil on the top of the cake.  I didn’t want this effect as it would mean having to go out and buy some hazelnuts just for two tablespoonfuls. It looked like an effective decoration idea, but not for me this time!





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

Frosted Walnut Layer Cake from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.

Last week it was my turn along with two others to provide supper for all the ladies at my local WI meeting.  When we sort out the supper rota at the beginning of the year I always volunteer to do my turn depending on when the school holidays are.  Luckily this time I managed to do April’s meeting as it fell during the Easter holidays.  This means it’s easier to get things ready, like baking a few little goodies.

Though I’m glad I had time to experiment in the kitchen this time.  I wanted to try out some more recipes from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible as part of my Cooking The Books Challenge, so I planned to bake a Frosted Walnut Layer Cake.   To help even more I was lucky to have both my daughter and her friend in the kitchen with me. My daughter’s friend is working towards her Duke of Edinburgh Award and wanted to gain some baking skills and more knowledge. So I got them both involved with tasks and it helped the baking go with a swing.

My daughter's friend set to chopping up some walnuts to go in the filling of the cake.
My daughter’s friend set to chopping up some walnuts to go in the filling of the cake.

Two 20cm/ 8" diameter sandwich tins were greased and lined.
Two 20cm/ 8″ diameter sandwich tins were greased and lined.

All the ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and the chopped walnuts) were all added to the mixing bowl and beaten until thoroughly blended.
All the ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and the chopped walnuts) were all added to the mixing bowl and beaten until thoroughly blended.

Here are the two Walnut Cakes turned out to cool on the wire rack.
Here are the two Walnut Cakes turned out to cool on the wire rack.

By this time it was getting busy in the kitchen.  I was trying to rush through each stage of the various cakes I had to make and then upon reading the recipe I realised I had to make a meringue frosting.  The egg whites and caster sugar had to be  continually whisked over a bowl of hot water, which took a very long time.  It was meant to thicken up but it just didn’t. No matter how hard I whisked it,  it just stayed runny.  By the time I had got round to making the frosting I had baked all the other things and I hadn’t got any eggs left to start again from scratch.  I was even low on butter so I couldn’t even make another batch of icing like a buttercream.  In the end I tried more whisking and after another ten minutes it finally thickened a little.  It still wasn’t enough to spread on the cake,  more like to pour it on as you’ll see from all the following pictures.

Spreading the frosting on one of the layers of the cake.
Spreading the frosting on one of the layers of the cake.

The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting.  The cake was finished with walnut halves.
The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting. The cake was finished with walnut halves.

A cut slice of the walnut cake.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.

The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!

I was so disappointed with the cake that I didn’t dare take it along to my WI meeting.  I was so ashamed of it and it looked so messy.  It went into the fridge and there it stayed.  Over the weekend a couple of days later when my mum was staying she had a piece and said it was lovely.  I tasted a mouthful and thought the icing was very sweet but I did like the walnut cake part.  I’ll definitely try and make it again when I’m not in a rush as it looks such a delicious cake.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Crunchy Coffee Cake- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

Last weekend after the disaster with my Orange and Olive Oil Loaf cake, I decided to try out another Great British Bake Off recipe.  I thought anything would be better than the slimy, claggy mass that came out of that loaf tin.  It would be a perfect cake to bung in the freezer for those times when we had hungry visitors or my hubby was moaning about needing something to put him on until teatime!

The latest Great British Bake Off book, the “Everyday” one has some lovely large cakes in it’s  first chapter.  I like the majority of the large cakes here as they are mainly ones with everyday ingredients and aren’t too fancifully decorated.

 This could be said of the Crunchy Coffee Cake on page 24.  This is a recipe which didn’t come with an accompanying picture so I had to guess what it would look like. It comes with a crunchy Streusel topping which is all it needs to make it look fabulous. It was meant to be baked in a 20.5cm springform tin which I did not have. My springform tin would have been too big so I resorted to a sandwich tin of the same size instead. It made it very messy for getting out of the tin when it was cooled down.

First, the streusel topping was made and put aside while I made the cake itself.  The topping consisted of light brown muscovado sugar, plain flour, porridge oats, ground cinnamon, butter and pecan nuts.  The nuts were chopped up then the rest of the ingredients were combined in the same way you make up a crumble topping.

Here is the coffee mixture after it was mixed up.
Here is the coffee mixture after it was mixed up.

Half the cake was spooned into the greased and lined tin, then a layer of nutty streusel topping was added. The rest of the cake mixture was added followed by more streusel topping.
Half the cake was spooned into the greased and lined tin, then a layer of nutty streusel topping was added. The rest of the cake mixture was added followed by more streusel topping.

A bit messy.  The cake cracked as I lifted it out of the tin and looked a complete mess.
A bit messy. The cake cracked as I lifted it out of the tin and looked a complete mess.

A side view of the Coffee Cake.
A side view of the Coffee Cake.

Despite the cake looking a bit rough and ready it didn’t look too bad when it was cut up into slices.  My son really enjoyed a slice or two of it over the past week, otherwise the rest is still in the freezer.  I think it would taste lovely with a spoonful of creme fraiche and I’m looking forward to trying a slice of it soon!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx