Archive of ‘Cake’ category

Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes

I think my life may be complete, I have made a purple cake batter. Purple is my favourite colour, some of you may have realised this already – purple clothes, purple food, purple sheets ๐Ÿ˜‰

I was given some beetroots from my colleague who grows them, I was a bit stuck for what to do with them in a savoury way. I remembered the lovely recipe featured on River Cottage for beetroot brownies. Instead I popped the nice fresh beetroot into a nice chocolate cake batter and studded it with blackberries and raspberries. Purple batter!

You can still taste the beetroot in this recipe, some people may not like this but I think it is unusual and very yummy. Beetroot is mainly used in cake and brownies for moistness, and that definitely was there too.

You can adapt this recipe and use courgettes as well, we have lots on our plant at the moment so this is something I am definitely going to try. Of course the batter won’t be purple though ๐Ÿ˜‰

Chocolate Beetroot Berry Cupcakes
makes 12 muffin/cupcake sized cakes

150g butter
150g brown or white sugar
2 large eggs
3 medium sized beetroots, peeled and grated
100g good quality cocoa powder
50g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
berries, about 2 or 3 per cupcake.

Cream together your butter and sugar then add in the eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy.
Sift in your cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Then fold in your beetroot carefully.

Spoon one heaped tablespoon into each cupcake case, pop a couple of berries in and then spoon over another tablespoon of mixture. Add another berry on the top.
Bake in a preheated oven at gas mark 6 / 200c / 400fย  for 15 – 20 minutes until cooked through.

These are gorgeous whilst still warm, very chocolatey, because they are fairly moist they don’t keep for more than a few days, but I don’t think that will be a problem in any household! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cherry & Oat Breakfast Muffins

I have been known to eat cake for breakfast on more than one (or two, or three or four) occasions, and any other number of sweet things. I’m not great at breakfast, I like sleeping in, but I do like breakfast food. I try and make up for this on weekends with pancakes or a nice bacon sandwich. Or eggs, yummmm. See I like breakfast, I do.

I have been experimenting with cupcakes and fairy cakes for a while but one of the things on my list has been a good breakfasty muffin with lots of things packed into it, but lower on the sweetness than a normal cake.

I was a bit greedy and got a kilo of cherries from the local Pick Your Own which meant I had something of a glut, brought on entirely by my eyes being bigger than my stomach. Some of the lucky things are spending time steeping in vodka, ready for a Christmas tipple, and others have gone into a juicy summer fruit cobbler (more on that soon). I had some left and they were destined for muffins!

I like real cherries and far too often you see those awful rubbery, almost flourescent, glace cherries in cakes, a real cherry cake is something much much better. I might have to go to the pick your own one more time and make a proper sweet dessert cake too ๐Ÿ˜‰

These muffins have no too much sugar in them, lots of oats and some wheatgerm, and I pepped them up with some cinnamon and nutmeg.

Cherry & Oat Breakfast Muffins
makes about 8 muffinsย 

100g unsalted softened butter
75g granulated or caster sugar
2 medium eggs
200g fresh cherries – pitted and halved
100g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g oats
25g wheatgerm (or substitute with more oats)
approx 50ml whole or semi skimmed milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to gas mark 6 / 400f / 200c. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

Cream together your butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Then add in your eggs one at a time and combine.
Fold in your cherries, then add in your flour and baking powder and stir gently to combine.
Then fold in your oats and wheatgerm, and spices. Finally add in the milk to loosen the mixture slightly. If your mixture is quite wet you may not need to add the milk.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons into the mixture, you want the muffins to be fairly substantial, leave about 1cm from the top. Sprinkle with oats. Bake for 10-15minutes in the oven until golden brown on top, and when a knife comes out clean when inserted.

Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Cupcakes

I do like this time of year, so many things are in season and it is so hard to choose what to cook with and eat next. Also the best thing is little garden gifts from relatives – their homegrown produce. We have been growing rhubarb this year and we exchanged a few stalks with my in laws for some of their lovely gooseberries and blackcurrants.

I am terrible for hardly ever just enjoying fruit as it is, I want to bake it or put it in jam or vodka, or something interesting. Rather than enjoying it in season as it is. Blackcurrants and gooseberries are different though, they do need to be cooked as they can be quite tart on their own, especially the gooseberries.

I have a shiny new cupcake/muffin pan this week and it was sitting there looking all new, so clearly – it was cupcake time!

I have a favourite basic sponge cake base that I nearly always use for cupcakes, and believe it or not it is from a book of student recipes, entitled ‘Student Grub,’ I don’t really use many of the other recipes (you know the one for beans on toast..) but this one is quite good for adding things to.

I wanted colourful cupcakes so I pureed half the blackcurrants and put the rest in whole. The whole ones burst slightly in the cupcakes during cooking so you get lovely bursts of pure colour in the cupcakes. The gooseberries were cooked down in a saucepan with some sugar and also a stick of rhubarb I had and spooned into hollowed out cupcakes once they were cool. And obviously some of them had frosting too, yum!

Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Cupcakes

For gooseberry sauce:
100g gooseberries
1/2 stick of rhubarb (mine was quite thin so use 1/2 a normal size stick)
3-4 tablespoons of sugar

Top and tail your gooseberries and cut your rhubarb into 1 inch long pieces. Add to a non stick saucepan with the sugar and a very small splash of water. Cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the gooseberries are soft and the skins collapsed. Cool slightly and taste for sweetness, if it is too tart, add a little more and cook on a low heat and stir til the sugar is dissolved. Puree with a blender. Set aside for filling the cupcakes later.

For cupcakes:
100g unsalted butter
100g granulated or caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 medium free range or organic eggs
150g blackcurrants – 75g pureed in a food processor, 75g whole.
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to gas mark 6 / 200c / 400f.
Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in your eggs one by one. Then add in your pureed blackcurrants, and vanilla. Stir lightly to combine, then add in your flour and baking powder slowly and fold in. Finally add in the rest of the blackcurrants and stir lightly to combine.

Line your cupcake pan with cases. Spoon in about 2 tablespoons into each cup, enough to fill them about 2/3 full. My mixture actually made 11 because I was a bit generous on some and less on others, but that is ok!

Bake for 10-15 minutes until tops are golden brown, and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the cake (look they are purple inside!).

Leave to cool for about half an hour, then for the fun bit! Cut little circles out the top of the cakes, go in about 1cm down and pop the top off the cake. Fill with about a heaped teaspoon of the gooseberry puree and pop the lid back on. Now you can leave them as they are or add some buttercream.

I frosted a few of mine with the rest of my butter, think a ratio of 1 part butter to 3 parts icing sugar, and I added some vanilla extract too, real vanilla bean would have been lovely though. Or you can flavour them with more pureed blackcurrant or mix in some of the gooseberry puree.

Eat immediately!

Cooking – Lemon & Poppyseed Cake

One of my birthday gifts this year was a copy of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, its been on my wishlist for a while along with the Magnolia Bakery book. There are so many brilliant recipes in it, it was so hard to pin one down to make first of all!

I picked this lemon poppyseed cake to make first, I’ve a soft spot for lemon cakes, lemon drizzle is my favourite kind of cake.

This one is a more complex version of a lemon drizzle cake, with a lemon syrup and a tangy lemon icing.I was suprised this cake didn’t contain any egg yolks, just whites, I was a little worried it would fall apart – but it was fine.

Lemon & Poppyseed Cake – from the Hummingbird Bakery Book

Ingredients (tweaked a little by me)

for the cake:
85g butter
245g brown sugar
zest of 2 lemons
2 tbsp poppyseeds
160mls of whole milk (I didn’t have whole so I used half cream half semi skimmed)
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder2 egg whites1/2 teaspoon salt

for the lemon syrup:
juice and zest of 2 lemons
50g caster sugar
50ml water

for the lemon glaze/icing:
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
125g icing sugar

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 / 180c / 350fCream together butter, sugar, lemon zest and poppyseeds until light and fluffy. The recipe suggests using a mixer but I don’t have one (sob) so I used elbow grease and then when the mixture was well combined I pulsed it with an electric whisk (slowly) until it was fluffier.

Add the milk slowly incorporating well with the butter mixture.Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together and fold into milk and butter mixture in 3 stages.
Whisk your egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks.
Carefully fold these into your cake mixture, try not to overmix.

Pour into a greased and lined cake tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes in your preheated oven til it is done (a knife should come out clean when you skewer it).Whilst your cake bakes make the lemon syrup. Add the lemon, sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer on a medium to high heat, stirring occassionally until you have a thick syrup. Remove from the heat. Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

The recipe suggests pouring it straight into the tin, I’ve had a lot of trouble with these kinds of syrups sticking to the greaseproof paper. So I turn the cake out into a plate and pour syrup over.
Next you need to make your glaze/icing. Add lemon juice to icing sugar in a bowl, beat until it is very smooth, it needs to be thick but pourable too. Add more sugar or juice to get the right consistency.

Wait until the cake is completely cool (torture!!) before you pour the icing over. Sprinkle with poppyseeds to decorate.

Once the icing is set cut yourself a large and well deserved piece.

Cooking: Rhubarb Crumble Cake

We are finally breaking through this gloomy winter and the sight of forced rhubarb appearing in the shops is a very welcome one. I love rhubarb, it has a wonderful flavour, can be used in many different ways and is terrible easy to cook – the main rule is – use lots of sugar.

I normally crumble rhubarb but we were cooking for guests this weekend and I thought it would be lovely to make something a little different with my thick pink rhubarb from the farm shop. I have made crumble cake before, its just perfect – a soft buttermilk sponge with soft stewed fruit and a crispy brown sugar topping.

It makes a lovely show off pudding but also holds up well to be thrown in your lunchbox for work days. I served mine warm with double cream, we’ve still got a couple of pieces left which I’m going to make custard for – because you have to have rhubarb with custard!

Rhubarb Crumble Cake – makes one quite big 9 inch sponge

for the cake:

150g granulated or brown sugar
150g butter
150g self raising flour
3 eggs – yolks and whites separated
approx 75ml butter milk (*see notes at the bottom)
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 large sticks (about 400g) rhubarb cut into chunks

Heat oven to gas mark 5 / 190c / 375f

First of all chop your rhubarb into chunks, about 1 inch thick, add to a bowl and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons over the top. Let it sit whilst you make the cake mix.

Cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in your egg yolks.
In a separate bowl whisk your egg whites until they form soft peaks – doing this separately will make your cake lovely and light.
Fold in your egg whites and then add in your flour, spices and vanilla. Then lightly stir in your buttermilk til you have a smooth batter.

Spoon into a greased and lined cake tin.
Scatter your rhubarb on top. Now you need to make your crumble top.

for the crumble:
50g butter
50g flour
50g brown sugar
1 tsp cinamonn

Pulse your butter and flour in a food processor til you have a breadcrumb texture. Or rub together in a bowl. You may need to add a little more flour or butter if you mix is too floury or thick and buttery. Then mix in your sugar and cinamonn.
Sprinkle this over your mixture in your tin, and sprinkle a little extra brown sugar on top. Make sure most of the rhubarb is covered otherwise you’ll get a little too much ‘caramelisation’ (ie burning) of your rhubarb as it cooks.

Bake for 30-40minutes – my oven is a little tempermental so yours may vary – til a knife comes out clean. If your top starts to brown too much cover with foil.

Serve with custard, creme fraiche or cream and a big spoon!

*Notes about buttermilk (which I totally forgot to add before!)
You don’t to buy your own buttermilk for this cake, it’s easy to make yourself. Just put your milk (preferable semi skimmed, whole milk, or use single cream) in a cup and add a teaspoon for each 75ml of white vinegar or lemon juice and leave for 10 minutes. You basically want it to sour a little bit.


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