I’ve written about these carrot cakes before over a year ago here. It’s still my favourite recipe for carrot cake; always consistently moist, not too sweet, and subtly spicy. I’ve made them even tinier this time around for a special order and decided that the drippy icing would make transporting the cakes a bit of a messy ordeal so instead of thinning the icing with milk I just piped the thick icing on in spaghetti-like squiggles with a #2 piping tip. It’ll help if the icing is not fridge cold, it’ll be nearly impossible to squeeze it out of the tiny tip and you’ll end up with a sore wrist and a burst piping bag. Lesson learnt.
I used my favourite combination of sprinkles- toasted coconut, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and toasted nibbed almonds. It gives just the right amount of crunch and nuttiness.
I love chiffon cakes! It’s so light and fluffy that you can easily eat a quarter of the cake in one sitting. And it’s really versatile, you can flavour it any way you like by changing the liquids; ie in this case, I subbed the orange juice called for in the original recipe with a strong cup of earl grey tea. Another of my favourite liquids to use is soy milk, it yields a cake that is slightly denser with a lovely soy fragrance. Or, instead of changing the liquids in the recipe, you can add a dry ingredient like spices, herbs and cocoa powder, or pastes like adzuki bean or black sesame, or even fruit purées.
Just a quick tip though, if adding an “oily” flavouring like sesame paste, reduce the oil in the recipe slightly to compensate for the additional oil from the flavouring. This is because oil/butter bursts precious air bubbles and this will result in a flat, heavy chiffon cake.
And the most important thing you need to know when making chiffon cakes- don’t grease the tube pan (yes, you need one)! And flip it upside down to cool immediately so it doesn’t collapse when cooling.
One of my favourite places to wander around in London is Seven Dials in Covent Garden. I miss the independent shops and boutiques, Monmouth coffee and, the shop I miss the most, Neil’s Yard Dairy. I remember going through an Eccles Cake Phase and buying one of these St John eccles cake at least twice a week, sometimes with a loaf of bread, until the man behind the cheese counter could recognise me and would tease me with a “Hello, again!?”. It’s never a cheap experience stepping into that shop, one simply can’t buy eccles cake without a sliver of cheese to go with it. The saltiness of sharp Lancashire cheese is the perfect complement to the sweet and spicy eccles cake.
Having left London, it’s impossible to find this sweet pastry on this side of the world. It’s not difficult to make and the St John recipe is easy to come by on the internet, and since I had leftover rough puff pastry from my apricot tarte tatin recipe I think the stars are aligned for me to make eccles cake today, right now, right away. So I did. It was pretty much a 5 minute affair to make the filling, roll out the pastry and fill them. After 20 minutes of baking, they were done and THEY WERE HEAVENLY. They tasted exactly the same as I remembered, only without the accompanying cheese, unfortunately. But thank you, thank you St John’s for generously sharing the recipe without messing it up to deliberately screw us all over.. this happens way too often with “Secret Recipes”. Anyway, here’s the recipe. The temperature is not stated but I baked mine at 180°C. Also, mine are teeny tiny because I accidentally cut the pastry discs too small but they turned out fine, I actually prefer this filling/pastry ratio because we all know the crust is the best part!
This entremét by Pierre Hermé is the ultimate chocolate dessert: dense chocolate cake, smooth chocolate cream, crunchy praline feuilletine and soft chocolate mousse enrobed in chocolate glaze and topped with a brittle chocolate sheet, which I’ve omitted and replaced with tempered chocolate deco instead.
It’s very straighforward to make, it’s mainly just making and freezing the layers one by one. There’s hardly any baking involved actually- just the “brownie” base; the rest is all done on the stovetop and freezer.
I halved the recipe and made it in a 5.5″ square cake ring instead. It didn’t reach the top of the cake ring but it turned out fine, it was just the right height for individual portions. Some points to remember when attempting this recipe is to not over-bake the base and to freeze the entire cake solid before glazing it, it’s much easier and less messy that way.
The recipe is from Best of Pierre Hermé which is French but there are lots of beautiful photographs for guidance. Or you can do a quick google search, it’s not hard to find the recipe.
A custom order from last month- red velvet babycakes covered with fondant and decorated with royal icing, gumpaste roses and glittery bows. I hardly ever make fondant cakes since it’s not really my forte and I find it just too tedious! Aesthetically, I also lean more towards the “haphazardly pretty”, ie casual swoops of buttercream or ganache or a dusting of icing sugar. However this order was for one of my friends and regulars who specifically asked for a Pretty Cake so a fondant cake it was! And now I’m back into fondant cake retirement..
Two layers of moist chocolate cake filled and covered with a super creamy peanut butter cream cheese frosting and decorated with Reese’s peanut butter cups, crushed salted peanuts and dark chocolate swirls. This cake was made for an order from a friend for another friend who obviously loves his peanut butter!
Madeleines are the French equivalent of our kuih bahulu; similarly plain, sweet and fluffy. The only difference would be the addition of honey and the much higher amount of butter in the former. The method of preparation is also very similar, with the eggs and sugar beaten to ribbon stage, then the butter and flour folded in gently to preserve the bubbles that gives the cake its delicate sponginess. The recipe I used is from St John Bread & Wine in London where I had the best madeleine I’ve ever had.
Victoria sponge, a very popular tea-time cake in the UK is usually two layers of sponge sandwiching jam and buttercream. I decided to use whipped mascarpone and LOTS of fresh raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate seeds instead of jam and buttercream as I prefer something lighter, juicier and not too sweet. Some toasted flaked almonds were scattered on top for a bit of crunch. A note to myself for the next time I make it would be to up the mascarpone filling- more cream is always welcomed!
This victoria sponge recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart strawberry shortcake recipe, but since I spread some jam between the layers I thought a Victoria Sponge was a more befitting name. It’s no ordinary victoria sponge- instead of light and fluffy sponge or chiffon cakes for the cake layers, this one is a marzipan-cornmeal pound cake. It isn’t very heavy and dense though, it’s still pretty fluffy and the almond flavour is so addictive and pairs very well with the jam. Atop the slick of jam on the cake is a generous layer of mascarpone cream, a cool and neutral flavour to tame down the sweetness of the cake. I topped the cakes with the tiniest and cutest English strawberries- instant kitschy cute. Almost unbearably cute..
I’ve been obsessing over my blueberry plant ever since it started to ripen, very beautifully I might add. Blue begins to marble the skin and within a day or two the entire fruit turns from green to a dusty blue, then whole bunches turn blue then the whole tree.. it’s quite exciting watching it happening! My plant was heavy with ripe fruit a few days ago so I decided it was time to pick them and bake something. There wasn’t enough for pie or a crumble so a pound cake it was. There’s also some sliced rhubarb in it, since I had two stalks that needed to be used. Rhubarb and almond go hand-in-hand so in went some marzipan into the batter, and also some cream cheese.. I replaced a bit of the flour with ground almonds and this resulted in the cake falling after it was removed from the oven, but that’s ok- it was still delicious.
For a “regular” sized loaf pan:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 stalk rhubarb, cut into 0.5-1cm chunks
170g self raising flour
20g ground almonds
160g cream cheese
40g marzipan (I used Anthon Berg 60% Almond Marzipan)
1. Grease and line a loaf tin, preheat oven to 160°.
2. Cream butter, sugar and marzipan until light and fluffy. Add egg one at a time, then add the cream cheese, vanilla and milk.
3. Fold in the flour and ground almonds.
4. Fill the tin 1/2 full and scatter the blueberries and rhubarb chunks (save some for the top), then top with the rest of the batter and place some blueberries and rhubarb on top.
5. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.