Lemon, Polenta and Almond Cake

Although I’m in the “milky/creamy” camp when it comes to picking desserts, lemon is definitely one of the exceptions. I love tart, lemony treats of all kinds- lemon tarts and slices and drenched syrup cakes. This particular cake, however tops the list of lemony cakes (for now). It’s flourless, so its texture is crumbly but really moist and dense from the ground almonds and it is seriously lemony. It’s sharp flavour balances the heft of the cake, and you don’t realise just how rich the cake is- it’s definitely not shy on the butter.

I don’t claim credit for this recipe as it’s one of those wildly popular cakes here in the UK. I’ve compared and tweaked several recipes and have come up with this one.

♡225g unsalted butter, room temperature
♡225g caster sugar
♡225g ground almonds
♡3 large eggs
♡115g polenta (cornmeal)
♡1tsp baking powder
♡1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
♡4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
♡2 clementines, both zested 1 juiced
♡Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 150º

2. Grease and line a regular sized loaf tin. There will be some extra batter- you can make mini cakes or alternatively, you can use a 7″ or 8″ round cake tin. I’m not too fussy when it comes to choosing a tin, I like shaking things up and make cakes of different shapes and sizes.

3. Zest the lemons and clementines and juice the lemons and 1 of the clementine. Strain the juice to remove the seeds and pips.

3. Cream the soft unsalted butter, vanilla seeds and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold the ground almonds into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well after each addition. Add the lemon zest and juice.

4. Fold in polenta and baking powder over the egg batter, the mixture will be runny- that’s ok!

5. Pour the mixture in to the prepared cake tin,  and  bake for 1 ½ hour. Test by poking a skewer in the middle of the cake- if there’s wet batter clinging to it, bake for another 5-10 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and cool until just slightly warm before removing from tin.

Lemon Glaze

♡100g icing sugar, sifted
♡juice of 1 lemon, sieved

1. Slowly add the lemon juice to the powdered sugar, stirring constantly. Not all the juice may be needed- the glaze should be and opaque white and pretty viscous.

2. Use a spoon to spoon the glaze onto the cake, pushing the glaze over the edges of the cake so it drips prettily down the cake.

Posted in Cakes, Lemon | Lemon, Polenta and Almond Cake

Rum Pavé au Chocolat

I love reading Japanese cookbooks! It’s usually much cheaper when they’ve been translated into Chinese, and at least I know just enough Mandarin to get by- ie I can read the ingredient list (sometimes with the help of my mum haha). And the great thing about these books are they usually focus on easy yet “chic” recipes, like this one. It’s basically a ganache set in a tin, left to firm, then cut into squares and dusted with cocoa powder. It’s so easy to make but it’s so good! It’s like a truffle, but softer- it gives slightly when you pick it up with your fingers, and right away you’ll so know that it’ll be soooo good. I spiked mine with rum.. because, why not??

Pavé au chocolat recipe, adapted from Japanese (Chinese) book.

The recipe uses a mixture of milk and dark chocolate but I used all dark. I also doubled the recipe and added a tablespoon of rum. I recommend using whipping cream- I used double but it split because of the high fat content and I had to whisk it quite vigorously to bring it back together. But double cream does make it quite a bit more indulgent! It can be used, but you’d have to be more careful about it splitting. Adding the chocolate to the hot cream instead of the other way round somewhat helps, and if it does split, just whisk it back together.. you’re gonna have to whisk hard!

♡270g dark chocolate, chopped
♡200ml whipping cream
♡vanilla or alcohol (I used rum)
♡20g butter
♡plus cocoa powder to dust

1. Bring cream to a boil on a stove, or in the microwave. Keep a close watch, especially if you’re doing it in a microwave- cream boils and bubbles over very quickly.

2. Place the chopped chocolate and alcohol into the hot cream, and let it sit for 3 minutes for the chocolate to melt. Stir gently with a spatula to combine, you don’t want to incorporate air into it.

3. Add butter, and mix until incorporated.

4. Pour into a small square tin or a loaf tin and chill until firm. Cut into squares and roll in cocoa powder to coat.

Posted in Chocolate | Rum Pavé au Chocolat

Soda Bread

We made an Irish soda bread in school last week. It was satisfyingly chewy and cakey fresh out of the oven, but within an hour it was stale and crumbly. So eat quickly, with lots of cold butter or a sharp cheddar- yummy!

This bread is quick to make since there’s no yeast in it and is instead leavened with baking soda and cream of tartar. It leaves a slightly sharp aftertaste though, quite.. corrosive. Haha, definitely not in a bad way though, it’s well rounded off by the butter.

Anyway, there are lots of good soda bread recipes out there, I probably shouldn’t share the Le Cordon Bleu Top Secret recipe haha! I imagine it’ll be a good partner with a nice hearty soup or stew, the proper Irish way. Ha, funny coming from a KL-ite who’s only been to Ireland once.. but I imagine that’s how it’s done there. Or maybe not.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake

This is one of my favourite cakes! A really dark, moist, fluffy sponge topped with lots of peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Yum. This chocolate cake recipe really is the best ever. I use it everytime I need a chocolate cake, and it never fails. So, so soft and moist yet really light at the same time. And the peanut butter frosting is adapted from Sky-High, and it’s omg so good- I could eat it with a spoon.. and sometimes I do. Gulp.

♡300g cream cheese, room temperature
♡113 g unsalted butter, room temperature
♡500g icing sugar, sifted
♡1 cup smooth peanut butter

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter until softened. Add the cream cheese and beat until the lumps have disappeared.
2. Add the icing sugar, a cupful at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition, scraping down the sides. The sugar will puff out of the bowl so it’s helpful to cover the bowl/mixer with a damp towel while doing this. Continue to beat until light and fluffy.
3. Add peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended. The frosting should have thickened slightly after the addition of peanut butter. If it hasn’t, add a little bit more cream cheese and beat until lumps have disappeared.

Red Velvet Cake

Since I mentioned on facebook that I’ll be taking cake orders from friends, I’ve been pretty busy with cake orders, and it’s been so great! It really makes my heart swell with happiness when my friends enjoy eating my cakes- it’s so encouraging and really makes me try my best to create cakes that hopefully meets their expectations, even if I have to try a few times to make it perfect. I probably don’t even make much of a profit given the number of  test-runs I sometimes do before I’m properly happy with a cake haha.

Anyway, Red Velvet has been a popular choice, more so than usual this week because of Valentine’s Day.

The recipe I use is this one. I’ve adapted it slightly by tripling the cocoa powder.. 1 tsp seems a little mean! 1 tablespoon isn’t much either but we aren’t really going for a strong chocolatey flavour in Red Velvet anyway. And I think 1 tablespoon is the absolute maximum cocoa powder that can be used, otherwise the vibrancy of the red will be muted.

{Hey! A page from my “secret book”, where I write my favourite recipes and ideas and recipes from everywhere I used to work haha. I have a few of these little books and they’re my treasures..}

I’ve always found Red Velvet quite strange- it doesn’t really have a particular flavour, neither chocolate nor vanilla nor anything in between, but it’s really pleasant to eat- there’s nothing offensive about it’s flavour (although its colour can be unsettling to some) and it’ll please almost anyone. Its real pull however, is the fact that it’s not very sweet and is very, very soft and moist. And of course, the cream cheese frosting (!). I use a cream cheese frosting that I came up with some time back. Most of the cream cheese frosting I’ve made in the past tend to be too gloopy and sweet so I cut back on the sugar by almost half. I think it’s the sugar that makes it really watery since it melts when it comes in contact with the cream cheese. Especially here in the UK, our Philadelphia cheese comes in those “spread” types, instead of blocks.. like everywhere else in the world. So I think it has a higher water content and will therefore be more likely to turn into sludge, so less sugar is probably best.

Oh, and a note of caution when making the Red Velvet cake, DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT use Dr Oetker’s “natural” red food colouring- it tastes absolutely disgusting! Food colouring don’t usually have any flavour but this particular one does, and it’s strong! It’s “natural” because it’s made of beetroot but it’s vile.. really. And, to make things worse, it isn’t even red- it’s brown! I ruined an entire batch of Red Velvet once because it looked and tasted disgusting. Damn you, Dr Oetker Natural Red! Food colouring paste is good and gives a nice bright red colour, but diluting it is a bit of a pain, and food colouring powder works great but it’s expensive. The best food colouring is Langdale’s Scarlet colour but it’s been discontinued?!?! Apparently there’s a non-natural Dr Oetker Red colour so if you see it, grab it! Otherwise colouring your Red Velvet red will be quite a difficult task.. Sigh.

This is my recipe for cream cheese frosting. It’s uses the same ingredients as most recipes, just the ratios have been tweaked.

♡450g cream cheese, room temperature
♡113g butter, room temperature
♡350g icing sugar, sifter
♡3 tsp vanilla, or 1 vanilla bean, scraped

1. Beat butter with an electric mixer until softened. This step is important as if it’s too cold when the cream cheese is added, there WILL be lumps and those lumps will be impossible to beat out.
2. Add cream cheese and continue to beat until combined.
3. Stop the mixer, add all the icing sugar, and start beating on low speed. Be prepared for the sugar to puff out and settle over everything. I absolutely despise working with icing sugar… Placing a damp cloth over your mixer helps to stop the sugar from getting everywhere. The mixture will look terribly runny at first, but increase the mixer speed to high, and it’ll start getting more fluffy.
4. Beat until light and fluffy, then beat in vanilla.

Thank you!!

Thank you all for your support and cake orders! It was quite a scary step for me to take but I’m so glad I did it. I love sharing what I make and (hopefully) share my passion and love for baking with others, so this is probably a nice, small step towards that! Thank you so much, you guys- I’m so happy I’ve got such supportive, encouraging people in my life! ♡