Orange macaroon cake

I was a bit preoccupied yesterday. I had plans to make a bit of an elaborate cake (one that would require going out to buy ingredients) but I also wanted to finish reading a book (of which more later). By around 3pm I gave up on the elaborate cake (book nowhere near the end), had a quick look at Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet  and found Orange macaroon cake. Simplicity itself and, more importantly, I had everything needed. IMG_0605

It’s a basic sponge with the addition of orange zest, desiccated coconut and Cointreau then iced with a mix of orange zest, juice and icing sugar. I actually didn’t have enough orange zest for the icing so just used a dollop of marmalade instead and reduced the quantity of icing sugar. It has a deep, intense orange flavour from the combination of zest and Cointreau and it is very light, a perfect afternoon treat.IMG_0603

Dan’s recipe uses three smaller tins, ending up with three layers, I made it in my trusty old 20cm tin and cut it into two layers. Am pretty impressed with quick it was to make and how delicious it is. Might make this again.

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Chocolate fudge cake

When in need of a really good cake, one that cannot fail to impress with its fabulousness, Ottolenghi book, the first, is unbeatable. It also takes forever + a million ingredients to make any of the cakes but I thought I deserved a serious treat after slaving on this stupid essay for weeks now. I remembered there was a chocolate cake in there somewhere, then I saw the recipe and, to my surprise and delight, it had a very brief list of ingredients. The brief list also gratifyingly hinted at the potential intensity of the finished cake: 350g chocolate, to be precise. That would do splendidly. I pushed the boat out and used Valrhona. Here’s the Chocolate fudge cake sliced:

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It only has chocolate, sugar, butter, eggs and tiny bits of water and salt. You don’t even need a mixer, only a whisk for the egg whites. The only thing is that it is twice baked, or rather you bake two thirds of it for 40 minutes, then leave to cool before adding the final third on top and baking for a further 25 minutes. That took time but the taste is pretty exceptional.

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The whole cake, finished and dusted with ‘special occasion’ cocoa (a gift from France). About to have another slice and then slowly contemplate whether I still need to tinker with essay and come up with a better final sentence or just post the thing and be done with it for the summer.

Almond, orange and honey cake

A slightly adapted cake recipe from Hugh FW’s Three Good Things, wheat-free and very good indeed:IMG_0553

Afraid I only took the photo of the whole cake, other photos so out of focus that I can’t really use them. It has equal quantities of butter and sugar (225g) beaten until light and fluffy along with a zest of an orange. Then beat in 225g ground almonds, followed by 3 large eggs (individually, incorporate well, then add the next egg), 125g polenta, large pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Bake in a lined springform tin at 170 degrees C for 45-50 minutes. Separately, mix juice of an orange with 3-4 teaspoons of honey then prick holes in the cake and pour honey and orange mix when the cake comes out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Serve with a spoonful (large) of creme fraiche.

 

Chocolate and walnut cake

This is really a layer cake  with chocolate, walnut, sultana and brandy filling. Recipe came from Paul Hollywood’s How to bake.

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I made it yesterday afternoon and initially thought it was a little too sweet and boozy but have changed my mind today and think it’s rather good. It doesn’t use much flour but it makes up for that with rather a lot of butter and sugar – I reduced the amount of both for the filling. Here is the photo of what’s left – looks a little like a Christmas log.

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Have to admit I’ve been rather distracted this weekend by an essay due soon so this cake was really an afterthought. A good afterthought. Got a massive sugar rush ‘sampling’ the filling while waiting for the cake to cool enough so that I could apply it. Would make it again as it took little time and effort but would also reduce the amount of sugar in the sponge too. Now back to the essay, unfortunately…

Chocolate muscovado banana cake

I seem to be baking with bananas quite a bit at the moment, there was the Banana and walnut bread and now this Chocolate muscovado banana cake from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II. Well, there were four rather blackened bananas in the fruit bowl so I thought better use them in something than throw them away. And, as it happens, this cake is totally worth leaving bananas out too long, it is rather lovely. Here’s the whole thing:IMG_0518I’ve been a fan of Nigel Slater’s recipes for years although I’ve learnt not to completely trust some of his ingredient quantities. For this cake, I reduced the quantity of muscovado sugar and also used up some old vanilla palm sugar I had. Combined with a teaspoon of vanilla essence, 100g of Valrhona and the pretty overripe bananas, this cake has a rich, intense, almost boozy flavour. Typically, I didn’t particularly fancy waiting for it to cool down so cut it, carefully, while still warm. Unfortunately the colourful look – with chopped chocolate and some bits of banana still visible, doesn’t quite translate in this photo since I used flash on iphone and then tried to soften and warm up the image somewhat.IMG_0517Have to admit, I did the photos in a rush as have quite a lot on at the moment – not satisfied with doing one pretty full on course, I’ve committed to doing another, not nearly as full on but I seem to be forever catching up now. At least all this study is not leaving me any time to be depressed about it still being winter.

Carrot and almond cheesecake

Late post this, I actually made this cheesecake last Sunday and very good it was too. Recipe came from Paul Hollywood’s How To Bake. I thought it quite a good idea to put carrots in a baked cheesecake and it works beautifully. IMG_0514This has a very thin layer of sponge as a base and then a very wet topping, mixing cheese, carrots, double cream, orange juice, almonds, eggs (separated, egg whites whipped and folded in), all baked in a low oven for an hour and a half + an hour  of slow cooling time in the oven with door just open. It’s very easy to make but it does take a bit of time. I also used cottage rather than cream cheese, which I’ve never done before for a cheesecake and loved the combination of textures this gave to the finished cake. It is very light, moist, does not have a huge amount of sugar, butter, eggs or flour so feels quite healthy. I will certainly make it again and when I do, I might try adding some sultanas to it too.

Chocolate hazelnut slice

I am not sure that the name of this cake quite does it justice, it’s more of an ‘extravaganza’ than a ‘slice’ but that’s what Nigel Slater named it in Kitchen Diaries II. I first saw the recipe in December issue of Observer Food Monthly and planned to make it over holidays but never got around to it. So I made it yesterday:IMG_0489 It’s a rather small cake that packs a bit of a punch with lots of chocolate, cocoa powder and hazelnut praline (ground up and mixed into the cake), then topped with Nutella buttercream icing and more hazelnut praline. Hence ‘extravaganza’ might be a better suited name. I have a feeling that the cake could have risen more but tastes good so am not complaining. Think this is quite a good cake for gloomy January, although not for those who spend this month abstaining from everything, which seems to be pretty much everyone I know (apart from me).

I was hoping to link to the recipe but can’t find it on Guardian website, which is a bit of a shame. I guess that’s because it was serialised from the book. Here’s a photo of the whole cake instead:IMG_0490Beloved thinks this is one of the best cakes ever and has no problems with the name – as it’s quite rich you can only eat a little slice at the time, he says.