A Bake in the Life: Double Orange Cake

Whenever I am browsing through cookery books I always seem to end up choosing a recipe that feeds my love for the taste of citrus! This cake caught my eye as I was looking through a Mary Berry recipe book while back home for a week in Oxfordshire. There is nothing quite like a traditional sponge cake, but I do like to try and liven it up a bit with a fresh taste that stops it from becoming too heavy and sickly. Originally this recipe was a one layer sponge with a simple orange juice icing sugar topping, however I decided to split the batter into two tins to make a double layered cake and top it with a cream cheese frosting instead 🙂

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Double Orange Cake

You will need:

For a double layered cake

6 oz/175g Butter

6 oz/175g Caster Sugar

6 oz/175g Self Raising Flour

3 Eggs

1½ tsp Baking Powder

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

Cream cheese icing

10½ oz/ 300g Icing Sugar

2oz/ 50g Butter

4½oz/ 125g Cream Cheese

Grated zest of 1 orange

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Let’s get started!

  • Pre heat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4, and grease/line two 6in/15cm cake tins.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

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  • Sift in the self raising flour and baking powder, stir to combine fully.
  • Beat together the eggs, then add the orange rind and juice.

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  • Add to the dry ingredients and beat well until completely blended.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins, spread flat and bake in the pre heated oven for 30-35 minutes until well risen and golden brown.
  • Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
  • In a separate bowl beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.

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  • Sift in the icing sugar and beat together for around 5 minutes until the icing becomes thick and fluffy.
  • Once the cakes are cool, fill and top with the cream cheese icing then decorate with grated orange zest or a slice of orange.
  • You are all done!

I really like that the orange zest gives this sponge cake tons of citrus flavour, while the juice keeps the cake moist. You could of course substitute the orange for another citrus fruit, but I love the colour orange zest/juice gives to this cake and the icing. The cream cheese icing complimented the cake well, and I would definitely recommend trying it out! Although I decided to make a double layered sponge cake I think this recipe would work well as cupcakes, topped with cream cheese icing and one of my favourite jelly oranges/lemons 🙂

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A Bake in the Life…

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A Bake in the Life: Coffee and Walnut Cake

When I first knew I would be going to university I remember reading countless articles designed to prepare very excited and slightly terrified new undergraduates for one of the biggest experiences of their lives. One thing that they all had in common was a section of tips offered by current and graduated university students. One tip that has always stuck with me was the following:

‘The best way to make new friends is with food!’

I took this advice to heart and I moved into my first student flat with a large pile of carefully decorated cupcakes which I offered out to my new flatmates – much to their appreciation!

A few years down the line…

Nowadays I’m fairly well known for the abundance of baked goods that will be forced upon you when you visit my house. I know not everyone is Mary Berry when it comes to baking but even this recipe is so simple anyone can make one, and I promise your new and old friends will be forever thankful! One of my most tried and tested cake recipes that everyone seems to love is a traditional coffee and walnut cake. This recipe comes from my mum and is one of my favourites 🙂

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Coffee & Walnut Cake

You will need:

For 1 two layered sandwich cake:

8oz/225g Butter (and a bit extra to grease your cake tins)

8oz/225g Self Raising Flour

8oz/225g Caster Sugar

4 Beaten Eggs

2oz/55g Chopped/Broken Walnuts

5 tbsps Cooled Coffee (Made from 1tsp coffee and boiling water)

For butter cream icing to fill and top the cake:

7oz/200g Icing Sugar

2 tbsps Cooled Coffee (Made as before!)

4½ oz/125g Butter

Walnuts to decorate the top of your cake

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Let’s get started!

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
  • Grease and line cake tins with grease proof/baking paper – so after all this hard work you can get your cakes out in one piece!

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  • Make up coffee and allow to cool. It is important to ensure the coffee is completely cold or else when added to the mixture it may cause it to curdle (however, if this does happen don’t worry too much as it should be okay after you add some flour!).

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  • Beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy.

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  • Beat 4 eggs (I usually just use a mug/measuring jug).

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  • Add to the butter and sugar mixture slowly to prevent curdling.
  • Add cooled coffee mixture, flour and walnuts and mix thoroughly (any curdling should be sorted by now!).

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  • Pour half of the cake mixture into each sandwich tin.

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  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown (If in doubt push a cocktail stick into the centre of the cake and if wet continue to cook until it comes out clean).
  • Leave cakes to cool in tins for 30 minutes then remove and cool on wire rack.
  • Prepare butter cream icing by beating together butter and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.
  • Add a tbsp at a time of cooled coffee until icing is a thick but easily spreadable texture (If possible allow the icing to cool and thicken up in the fridge for 30 minutes).
  • Once cooled place the first cake onto a plate and smooth over half of the icing.
  • Place second cake on top and smooth over the rest of the icing.
  • Decorate with walnuts however you like! Whole, crumbled or maybe if you are feeling fancy with chocolate covered coffee beans!

This is probably my favourite cake to bake and eat, as not only is it delicious but makes me think of home 🙂 Beating together the sugar, butter and eggs first ensures a very airy sponge and gives that beautiful light texture. I like to add broken walnuts to the cake mixture to add some crunch throughout the cake, as well as decoration, but you can leave this out if you want. My mum also sprinkles broken walnuts on top of the filling before adding the second cake on top which I really enjoy.

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You can of course just make a single cake by halving all ingredient amounts and only applying butter cream icing to the top of the cake, or scrap the icing all together and simply sieve over some icing sugar. Whatever you decide to do just make sure to enjoy a piece yourself before you give it all away! 🙂

A Bake in the Life…

A Bake in the Life: Carrot and Walnut Cake

Since buying my new Sweet Things recipe book I have been distracted from the world of baking and focused on the art of chocolate, sweet and candy making. As a result I decided that I definitely needed to get back into baking and try out a new cake recipe that I hadn’t tried before. I am a massive fan of carrot cake, however for what ever reason I have never actually made one myself. With that in mind I decided that I really had to give it a go and to go all out with a double layered carrot and walnut cake with plenty of sweet cream cheese icing 🙂

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Carrot and Walnut Cake

You will need:

9oz/250g Self Raising Flour

2 tsp Mixed Spice/Cinnamon (I chose to use mixed spice as I already had some in my cupboard, however you can use what ever spices you like best/or have available)

9oz/250g Caster Sugar

12 fl oz/350ml Vegetable Oil

4 Eggs

12oz/350g Grated Carrots

3½oz/100g Chopped Walnuts (You can leave these out if you like or use a different nut, such as pecans)

Icing

7oz/200g Cream Cheese

4½oz/125g Softened Butter

1lb/450g Icing Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla Flavouring/Extract

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Let’s get started!

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
  • Grease and line two 23cm round cake tins with grease proof paper or non stick paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, chosen spices and sugar.

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  • In a measuring jug combine the oil and eggs.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat well, before stirring in the carrot and chosen nuts if using.

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  • Divide the cake mixture evenly between the two tins.

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  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until light brown, firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean from the centre.
  • Cool cakes on a cooling rack before removing.
  • To prepare the cream cheese icing, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add the icing sugar and vanilla then beat until combined.

 

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  • Once the cakes are completely cool, use the icing to fill the cake and if you like ice the top and sides.
  • I choose to sprinkle some broken pieces of walnuts on top of the cake to decorate.
  • You are all done 🙂

What a easy and simple cake! It feels as though you are using way too much carrot, however once combined and baked with everything else those worries definitely disappear. The original recipe I took inspiration from on Allrecipes used 14oz/400g of caster sugar, which seemed far too much for my taste, especially with the sweet cream cheese icing so I decided to reduce it to 9oz/250g. I also slightly adjusted the icing measurements as it produced a very large amount of icing which was far too runny – it actually may be worth only making half the amounts here to start with, then making more if you think you need it (Especially if you aren’t planning on icing the whole cake, just filling it and topping it). I really like the idea of using pecans instead of walnuts next time I make this cake, as I think it would give a really interesting change to the fairly traditional carrot and walnut combination.

I really like using oil in cakes rather than butter as it gives a more moist cake that stays that way for much longer than when using butter (Although I admit it does look slightly off putting when you are measuring it out, compared to butter! However, vegetable oil is actually healthier for you than butter, as it contains high levels of unsaturated fats which help to lower LDL/’bad’ cholesterol in the body, while butter is higher in saturated fats which reduce HDL/’good’ cholesterol). All in all a great cake that I definitely recommend trying out 🙂

A Bake in the Life…

A Bake in the Life: Lemon and Lime Drizzle Cake

I really like making traditional lemon drizzle cake as it is really simple and I love the nice fluffy cake, good citrusy taste and crunchy sugar topping. For a while I have been thinking about changing up my original recipe, so I thought adding some lime and changing the drizzle to more of an icing would add an interesting twist.

IMG_2275The finished cake! I decided to make my icing thicker and drizzle it over the top

Lemon and Lime Drizzle Cake

You will need:

For the cake:

4½oz/125g Butter

5oz/150g Caster Sugar

Few drops of Vanilla Extract/Flavouring

3 Beaten Eggs (I just do this in a mug!)

5oz/150g Self Raising Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

Pinch of Salt

Rind of 1 Lemon and Lime

For the drizzle:

Juice of either 1 lemon/lime (I used the juice of 1 lemon)

2oz/50g Icing Sugar

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Let’s get started!

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
  • Grease and line a loaf tin with grease proof/baking paper.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

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  • Add the vanilla and then slowly add the beaten eggs, beating until smooth and combined (Sometimes the mixture can split at this point, but don’t worry once we add the flour it will be fine!).
  • Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, then add the grated rind of the lemon and lime. Beat together until fully combined.

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  • Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden on the top and a skewer/cocktail stick comes out clean from the centre (If the top is browning too much, and the skewer/cocktail stick isn’t coming out clean, you can cover the top with foil and continue baking until it is cooked through).

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  • Once baked, leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes.
  • To make the icing combine the icing sugar and juice of either the lemon/lime until the consistency is to your taste. The more juice the thinner and runnier your drizzle will be (Maybe better for drizzling all over the cake). The less juice the thicker and less runny your icing will be (Maybe better for sitting on top of your cake), but of course it is up to you!

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  • If you want your icing to sit on the top of the cake, leave your cake in the tin, pour the icing on top and leave until set. If you want the icing over the whole cake, remove the cake from the tin and place one a wire rack/plate, drizzle the icing over the top and leave to set (If it isn’t setting just pop it into the fridge).
  • You are all done – Enjoy! 🙂

I really liked the end result of these changes. The lime adds more citrusy tang and the icing contrasts this sharpness well. I will definitely be making this version again, and I would like to try out a few more changes I have seen. The addition of poppy seeds, raisins/sultanas and use of different citrus fruit – orange or grapefruit.

If you want to make a traditional lemon drizzle cake, just leave out the lime rind/juice and instead of using icing sugar, use caster sugar for the crunchy topping. Remembering to prick holes in the cake using a skewer/cocktail stick, and leave the cake in the tin before pouring over the drizzle.

A Bake in the Life…

A Bake in the Life: Wild Blackberry and Vanilla Cupcakes

While exploring Pinterest I came across this recipe on a sweet inspired blog called Sweetopia. Seeing as I have plenty of frozen blackberries left from when we did the River Witham walk, I thought I would test it out! Normally I’m not a big fan of cupcakes, as I find the amount of icing on top too sickly, so I decided to reduce the icing. As with many recipes online, the original recipe is in American cup measurements, so I converted it to ounces and grams. I also halved the recipe, as I didn’t want to make a batch of 24 cupcakes, and significantly reduced the icing recipe as I didn’t really want to use 2lb of icing sugar and 1lb of butter

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Wild Blackberry and Vanilla Cupcakes

You will need:

For the Cupcakes

4oz/113g Butter

7½oz/213g Caster Sugar

2 Eggs beaten

½ tsp Vanilla Flavouring/Extract

6oz/170g Plain Flour

½ tbsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Pinch of Salt

6oz/170g Buttermilk (I found mine at a supermarket next to the creams)

8oz/227g Blackberries

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For the icing

8oz/227g Icing Sugar

4oz/113g Butter

Few drops of flavouring (Almond/Vanilla) and/or Colouring (Lilac/Mint Green/Light Blue)

Let’s get started!

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4, and line your muffin/cupcake tin with paper cases.
  • Beat together sugar and butter until light, smooth and creamy.

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  • Add the beaten eggs slowly, mixing continuously until combined.
  • Add the vanilla and mix.IMG_1608
  • In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.
  • Now add a small amount of the buttermilk and dry (flour) mixture to the wet (butter/sugar) mixture, and combine until smooth. Continue to add small amounts of each, stirring between additions, until everything is combined well.

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  • Gently fold in the blackberries, being careful not to mush them around too much in the mixture (I find using frozen fruits helps to prevent this as they are more resistant to mixing).

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  • Spoon the mixture evenly into paper cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until skewer/cocktail stick comes out of the centre of the cake clean.

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  • Let the cakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  • To make the icing combine sugar and butter and beat into a smooth paste.
  • Add your flavouring/colouring and beat again. If the consistency is not to your liking add some milk/more icing sugar to make the icing more wet or dry.
  • I don’t own a piping bag, so I just spoon my icing into a small plastic food bag (Which you can put inside a glass/bowl to hold it steady). I then twist the top to push the icing down to a corner at the bottom of the bag and cut the corner as large/small as I need it.
  • I iced the top of the cupcakes with enough icing so you couldn’t see the cake through it, but not as much as the original recipe demonstrates. I then topped the cupcake with a blackberry for decoration.
  • You are all done! 🙂

I really enjoyed making these cupcakes. One of my favourite things to bake are muffins, so it was nice to bake something similar to muffins but a little different. The recipe is a bit more challenging than the previous recipes I have posted about, so it does take longer to make these cupcakes from start to finish. However with a bit of practise you could bake and ice them within 2 hours (Including waiting for them to cool sufficiently before icing). I haven’t had the opportunity to try out baking with buttermilk yet, so using it in this recipe was very interesting for me. I really like the taste and texture it gives the cupcakes and I definitely want to try out more recipes that use it.

I decided to flavour my icing vanilla and colour them a mint green, as I thought it complemented the deep purple colour of the blackberries and the slightly pink colour of the cupcakes well. Another idea for icing that I think would work well is lemon or lime – to the same amount of icing sugar and butter add the zest of 1 lemon/lime and juice until you reach your desired consistency. The original recipe also used sanding sugar to cover the icing once piped – which looked really good, however I’m not sure where to find it so I need to go on a hunt so I can try it out!

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All in all I liked both the recipe and final cupcakes, and would make them again. If you feel like going blackberry picking, or have some spare blackberries left over I would definitely put them to good use and try out this recipe yourself!

A Bake in the Life…