Archive of ‘Cake’ category

Afternoon Tea at the Ludlow Kitchen

Last weekend we spent a sunny two days at Brook Farm in Berrington, on the Shropshire/Worcestershire border, a B&B we’ve stayed before and is now our go-to place for a relaxing break. Ludlow is very close and one of the best foodie spots in the country, when planning our return visit we were excited to learn the excellent Ludlow Food Centre had opened a restaurant, the Ludlow Kitchen.

We booked for afternoon tea on a Sunday afternoon weeks in advance and I was very impatient for it by the time the day arrived. For just £8.50 you get three different sandwiches, four mini cake slices, a fruit scone, clotted cream and as much loose leaf tea as you can manage.

The great thing about the Ludlow Kitchen is that most, if not all, of the produce that goes in to their food is made on site or very local – they bake their own bread, smoke their own salmon, cure their own ham and of course make their own cakes and scones. They even roast their own coffee beans and the tea is blended by a local Herefordshire company. As if that wasn’t enough they grow fruit and vegetables in their own walled garden and the jam is made on site too. Suddenly that £8.50 seems ten times better value!

The service was excellent, welcoming and really helpful but not over the top. We first chose our teas from a list of 7 options, an English Breakfast for me and Darjeeling for the Mr. Vintage tea cups are used and the sugar is served in little cups made by local potters, Wenlock Pottery. The teabags used are a little strange looking but they do work very well with loose leaf tea.

The sandwiches were really impressive, usually they are the most neglected part of an afternoon tea in terms of creativity but not here. The bread was fresh wholemeal and there were three fillings each with salad leaves – cheese and pickle; smoked salmon, cucumber and pickled onion and ham and piccalilli. I particularly liked the salmon and the pickled onion was amazing with the rich salmon and the thinly sliced cucumber. We bought a jar of piccalilli from the food centre, it’s great stuff – crunchy chunky vegetables with a good hit of mustard.

One of the cakes was the traditional Victoria sponge, which tasted like the birthday cakes I ate as a child – this is a good thing! It was a lovely trip down memory lane, the sponge was really light and it was sandwich with a little buttercream and strawberry jam. We were also treated to flaky and fruity Eccles cake, dense chocolate cake and a rich fruit cake.

Scones were textbook – very tall and packed with raisins and sultanas – I was able to tear it open, making sure I was using the correct etiquette when eating my scone. Raspberry jam (made on site) and clotted cream were served in little Wenlock Pottery cups.

The afternoon tea we had the Ludlow Kitchen was excellent, the atmosphere was relaxed and each element was made with lots of care and thought. I just can’t believe what good value it was, £17 for two of us to eat so well, usually that is what you would pay per person.

If you’re in the area (and if you’re not I recommend planning a trip, maybe to coincide with Ludlow Food Festival?) do go along to the Ludlow Kitchen, and then the Ludlow Food Centre. They also do breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m sure we’ll be back in the area before too long and I can’t wait to go back.

Ludlow Kitchen 

Honey Sesame Dream Cake

I had a dream about this cake, scented with toasted sesame oil with the crunch of sesame seeds and a touch of citrus, and maybe some spice. I am aware this is totally ridiculous/obsessive but I am pretty sure cake is a good thing to be obsessive about, good cake that is. This is why dream made it into the title – and of course it is dreamy to eat!

This cake is flavoured with toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and then glazed with pure honey, with some spices, and topped with more toasted sesame seeds for crunch and prettiness.

I whisked my eggs to get some air into the batter, and also used yogurt for a creamier softer sponge. I used Yeo Valley Lemon Yogurt, but you could use plain yoghurt with some lemon curd whisked in, or some zest. My chicken eggs were from a local farm so were super yellow, hence the bright sponge!

Honey Sesame Dream Cake
Makes one round 20cm cake

150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar

100g plain or lemon flavoured yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp toasted sesame oil
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 medium eggs
50g toasted sesame seeds

For the topping:
1 -2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds
5-6 tablespoons of runny honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

Preheat oven to 180c / 160c fan
Cream together butter and sugar til creamy. Then add in the yoghurt, vanilla and oil.
Fold in your flour, baking powder, salt and sesame seeds.
Whisk your eggs in a separate bowl til airy.
Gently fold in the eggs to the cake mixture.
Spoon mixture into a lined/greased 20cm cake tin and bake for 30 – 40 minutes til cooked through.
Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes then remove from the cake tin.

Mix the spices with the honey, if it is a little too thick to spread add a tiny bit of hot water.
Spread over the cake with a pastry brush (silicone ones are best for sticky honey!)
Sprinkle over sesame seeds generously.

Cut it, eat it, be happy, and hopefully dream about it later on. 🙂

my giraffe socks (great aren’t they?) sneaked into the photo, so here is an outtake for you…

Orange & White Chocolate Cake – Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook

The Clandestine Cake Club is a wonderful thing. Back in 2010  Lynn Hill set up a small local get together in Leeds for bakers and cake eaters to meet, eat and talk. No competition, no rivalry, just a chance to bake a cake and share it with others. Since then the cake club has spread nationally and internationally, with more than 150 clubs meeting, eating and baking.

As a member, and more recently a co-host, of the Cambridge club, I have met lots of great people at the many meets I’ve attended and we’ve talked about everything from the frustrations of buttercream, our thoughts on Paul Hollywood and the best cake tins. My cakey knowledge has come on leaps and bounds since I attended the first Cambridge club in 2011.

The Clandestine Cake Club cookbook came out last week, it is a collection of over 120 recipes from members of cake clubs, is this the very first crowdsourced cookbook? The book is beautifully photographed and there is such an array of different recipes that it is so hard to choose which one to begin with. The book is split into sections – classic cakes, Victorian cakes, fruity cakes, global cakes, zesty cakes, chocolatey cakes (of course), celebration cakes and creative cakes.

There is also a brilliant section about the various cake disasters that can happen to bakers – refreshing to see in a cookbook as many do tend to paint a perfect world of cooking and baking. I can safely say I’ve had my fair share of undercooked cakes, melting buttercream and cakes stuck to the tin. Fortunately the book offers some advice for how to fix this, or prevent it in the first place.

I’ve bookmarked about 12 recipes in the book that I must make soon, and for my first bake I thought it would be fitting to bake one of Lynn’s recipes. I chose the Orange & White Chocolate Cake – a classic sponge soaked in orange syrup and sandwich with white chocolate and orange buttercream.

It is a delicious cake, quite sweet but the orange really helps to lighten it and make it seem not so naughty! The sponge recipe is straightforward and the buttercream not too difficult – I always find chocolate buttercream a little easier to make than standard as the cooling chocolate helps it to stay stiff and not melt so easily (provided your chocolate is cool).

I’ll be trying to resist having another slice of this today, and then bringing the rest in for my colleagues to eat – which I think is in the spirit of the cake club – sharing cake!

The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook is available to buy from all bookshops and online. The Book People also have it for only £6.99 at the moment, which is a bargain. Pick up a copy, find your local cake club and get baking!

Herman Friendship Cake

If you google Herman Friendship Cake it is basically all over the internet, there is even a whole website dedicated to it.  Basically it is a sweet sourdough starter used to make cake, you divide it into 5 portions – make a cake with 1 and distribute the rest to 4 lucky friends. I’d heard of it a while ago and a couple of weeks ago I got my hands on a bubbling pot of Herman starter from Vanessa.

I fed it with milk, sugar and flour, stirred it (not with a metal spoon, very important) and it stunk out the kitchen with yeasty smells for about a week. I’ve tried sourdough before, and whilst it was successful soon my starter started to smell of paint and it didn’t make good bread anymore, so in the bin it went. Maybe my kitchen has the wrong atmosphere?

I wasn’t intending on keeping this starter or passing it on as you are meant to (what can I say, I am greedy) – mainly because I’d never remember to feed this little floury pet every few days for the forseeable future. So about 1/3 went into a Herman friendship cake and the rest into a semi-sweet sourdough loaf (which actually didn’t come out too well but let’s not talk about that…).

I used this recipe here but substituted the oil for cooled melted butter, because you know, butter is better in a cake. I also added four chopped pink lady apples (and a few sliced up on the top) and a generous amount of vanilla extract. The resulting cake is very proper looking – homey, HUGE with a lovely crispy top. Had I had got around to making custard, I’d say it would be great with custard.

The cake has a yeasty taste which isn’t as odd as it seems, to me it tastes a bit like a chelsea bun  – which is why I expect the original recipe contains raisins, I think some nuts would be great too.

I now kind of wish I’d saved the starter for more cake, I’ll just have to make more friends with Hermans!

Margarita Cake & Clandestine Cake Club

Another day, another cake club! My favourite cocktail is a margarita, and I didn’t have to think hard when asked to make a cocktail inspired cake for the next Clandestine Cake Club. Apart from anything else, I already had triple sec and tequila in my kitchen, all I needed was limes (oh and butter, sugar, flour…) and a spare evening.

I was also particularly excited because last night’s cake club was my first as official co host. It was held at the lovely Greens Coffee in Cambourne, and a dozen cakes and guests settled around a long table filled with all kinds of cakes. We were also joined by the lovely Leanne from Cambridge News, more on that in a couple of weeks….

This cake gets all the flavour after baking – the sponge is a simple vanilla with lots of lime zest stirred in. After it comes out the oven a tequila sugar syrup is poured over the cake to soak in whilst it cools. Then it is topped with even more booze – in the form of a tequila, triple sec, lime and cream cheese icing.

Margarita Cake
makes 1 loaf cake

For the cake:
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 2 limes
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 / 160 c fan / 180 c conventional. Cream together the butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Then add in the eggs one by one til well combined. Add vanilla and lime zest. Add in all the flour and baking powder and gently fold in til just combined. Bake in a lined loaf tin for 25-30 minutes.

Margarita Syrup
2 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 capful of Tequila
1 capful of Triple Sec
juice of 1 lime

Mix all the ingredients together til the sugar is dissolved.
When the cake is cooked, leave in the tin for about 5-10 minutes, then remove and put on a plate. Poke small holes in the cake with a skewer and then evenly pour the syrup over the cake. Leave to cool.

Cream cheese icing
100g cream cheese
25g of butter, softened
1 tablespoon of Tequila
1 tablespoon of Triple Sec
juice of 1 lime
150g – 200g icing sugar

Cream together the butter and the cream cheese, then add in 100g of icing sugar and the spirits and lime. Add in more icing sugar as you combine til you have a thick icing, slightly thicker than custard – you want nice pourable icing. Refrigerate whilst the cake cools.

This cake is best iced just before you serve it – which I didn’t think through very well because it meant I had to arrive at cake club with a tub full of it and a spoon ready to ice at the table. Just pour tablespoon fulls of it over the cake in a ‘rustic’ fashion! If you have some left it will freeze well and you can use it for another cake.

Our next Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club is the 24th November, sign up on the website.

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