Cakes & Bakes: Almond loaf cake

Home-made almond loaf cake | H is for Home

Today’s almond loaf cake wasn’t meant to happen; Justin requested a coconut cake that he could have with an afternoon cup of tea. We didn’t have any dessicated coconut in the store cupboard and it was out of stock when I went to by some from the supermarket.

Almond loaf cake batter in a a tin

A snap decision in Morrison’s saw me pick up a bag of ground almonds instead… and what a good decision that turned out to be.

Cooked almond loaf cake in its tin | H is for Home

A last-minute, quick, basic wet & dry recipe that turned out to be taste triumph!

Preparing to pipe chocolate on to almond loaf cake

A little drizzle of chocolate finished it off nicely.

Home-made almond loaf cake | H is for Home

A new one for my afternoon cake repertoire!

Almond loaf cake
Serves 8
Write a review
Print
Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz + 1tbsp golden caster sugar
  2. 150g/5oz butter, softened
  3. 2 eggs
  4. ½ tsp almond essence
  5. 4 tbsp milk
  6. 125g/4½oz plain flour
  7. 1½ tsp baking powder
  8. ¼ tsp salt
  9. 150g/5oz ground almonds
  10. 50g/2oz dark chocolate
  11.  
  12. Home-made almond loaf cake ingredients
  13.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/325°F/Gas mark
  2. Grease a 450g/1lb loaf tin
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined
  5. Stir in the almond essence and the milk
  6. In another mixing bowl, sieve together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt
  7. Stir this into the wet ingredients in three batches, stirring well after each addition
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin, levelling out using a spatula or back of the spoon
  9. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top
  10. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  11. Allow to cool in the tin for at least half an hour
  12. Break up the chocolate into a small heat-proof bowl
  13. Melt in a bain-marie or in 10-second bursts in a microwave
  14. Make a piping bag out of a triangle of parchment paper, fill with the melted chocolate and zig-zag over the top of the cake
  15. Serve
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Peanut butter baked cheesecake

Home-made peanut butter baked cheesecake | H is for Home

It’s Justin’s 50th birthday today so, of course, I had to make him a birthday cake.

Crushed plain chocolate digestive biscuits for peanut butter baked cheesecake base | H is for Home

I made a peanut butter baked cheesecake – seeing as cheesecake is his favourite kind of cake, and he’s quite partial to peanut butter too.

Cheesecake cake tin wrapped with wet tea towel

I also wanted to try out a tip that I found on the internet this week. Apparently, instead of using a Wilton Bake Even Strip (which helps keep your cake level and prevent a cracked top), you can wrap the sides of the tin with a wet cloth or tea towel.

Peanut butter baked cheesecake batter ingredients | H is for Home

It worked pretty well, there was a slight bulge to one side of the top which I put down to the overlap of the cloth. Next time I’ll use a cloth cut down to fit the circumference exactly. So long as the cloth is very wet, it won’t burn in the oven. Elasticated cloth, or nylon/polyester fabric probably wouldn’t work very well in the heat of an oven; stick with cotton or linen.

Pouring peanut cheesecake batter on to biscuit base

The plain chocolate digestive biscuits gave just that bit of extra depth of flavour over plain digestives, and baking the base for 10 minutes gave it a ‘biscuity’ taste and texture.

Chocolate topping ingredients for peanut butter baked cheesecake

I used mascarpone, but you can use Philadelphia or any other plain full-fat cream cheese.

Smooting chocolate topping on peanut butter baked chesecake | H is for Home

Results were delicious – a rich, indulgent treat.

Home-make peanut butter baked cheesecake with toasted mixed nut sprinkles | H is for Home

There’s only one slice left – that must mean that the birthday boy approves!

Peanut butter baked cheesecake
Serves 6
Write a review
Print
For the base
  1. 150g/5oz plain chocolate digestive biscuits
  2. 30g/1oz butter, melted
For the filling
  1. 250g/9oz mascarpone cheese
  2. 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  3. 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  4. 150g/3oz crunchy peanut butter
  5. 60ml/2fl oz soured cream
  6. ½tbsp cornflour
For the topping
  1. 125g/4½oz soured cream
  2. 50g/2oz dark chocolate
  3. 15g/½oz caster sugar
  4. 3tbsp mixed chopped toasted nuts (optional)
  5.  
  6. Home-made peanut butter baked cheesecake ingredients
  7.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/325°F/as mark 3
  2. Grease & line and 22cm diameter spring form tin
For the base
  1. Using a food processor, grind the plain chocolate digestives into fine crumbs
  2. Add in the melted butter and combine well
  3. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin pressing down firmly & evenly using a cold metal spoon to form a level base
  4. Put the base into the oven for 10 minutes, when cool put it into the fridge to set
For the filling
  1. After washing out the processor bowl, use it to combine the mascarpone, eggs, yolk, sugar, peanut butter, soured cream and cornflour to a smooth consistency
  2. Pour the mixture into the over the base and bake for 30-40 minutes until just set
  3. Allow to cool for half an hour on a wire rack before putting the tin into the fridge to chill
For the topping
  1. In a small saucepan, gently warm the soured cream, chocolate and sugar stirring to form a smooth sauce
  2. Pour the mixture on top of the cold cheesecake and allow it to set in the fridge
  3. When cooled & set, run a sharp knife around the edge of the tin before easing the cake carefully
  4. Finish with a sprinkling of mixed chopped toasted nuts (optional)
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Ginger loaf

Slice of home-made ginger loaf and cup of tea | H is for Home

This week’s Cakes & Bakes recipe is a low effort to high reward ginger loaf cake. There are quite a few ingredients, but its a simple case of combining the dry, the wet, then mixing them together – and popping it in the oven.

Tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup and Black Treacle | H is for Home

The aromas emanating from the kitchen as it baked were amazing.

Pouring ginger loaf batter into lined cake tin | H is for Home

And after less than an hour a moist, very flavoursome loaf cake emerged.

Sliced home-made ginger loaf | H is for Home

It’s a perfect afternoon cake. A cup of tea and slice of this will satisfy the most extreme 4 o’clock peckishness. And it keeps very well too, so there’ll be plenty of days to enjoy it – unless you actually let someone else have some too!

Ginger loaf
Serves 8
Write a review
Print
Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  2. 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  3. 1 tbsp ground ginger
  4. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  5. 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  6. 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  7. 115g/4oz butter, chilled & diced
  8. 115g/4oz black treacle
  9. 115g/4oz golden syrup
  10. 115g/4oz dark brown Muscovado sugar
  11. 275ml/9½fl oz milk
  12. 1 egg
  13. 75g/2½oz crystalised or stem ginger in syrup, finely sliced
  14.  
  15. Home-made ginger loaf ingredients
  16.  
Instructions
  1. Pre heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and line a 1kg/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice
  3. Add the diced butter and lightly rub into the dry mixture
  4. Pour the treacle and golden syrup into a small saucepan and warm gently until melted and runny but not hot. Set aside until lukewarm
  5. In another larger saucepan, add the sugar and milk and heat gently, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside until lukewarm
  6. Whisk the milk into the flour mixture, quickly followed by the treacle mixture and the egg
  7. Add the ginger pieces and stir through before pouring the mixture into the prepared loaf tin
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
  9. Allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack before turning out. Serve warm or cold within 1 week
Adapted from The Great British Book of Baking: 120 Best-loved Recipes from Teatime Treats to Pies and Pasties
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Sweet potato cake

Slice of home-made sweet potato cake | H is for Home

I think we’ve mentioned before that we often receive ‘food parcels’ from Justin’s mum when we visit on a Sunday. They usually contain some chocolate, cheese, crackers, vegetables and a treat for the dog. Generally, things she thought looked interesting on her shopping trips during the week.

Grated sweet potato | H is for Home

It often includes vegetables that she bought too many of, which was sweet potatoes this time around.

Vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract

I decided to incorporate them into a cake in just the same way you’d add carrot to carrot cake.

Folding flour into sweet potato cake mixture

Adding root vegetables to cakes isn’t immediately logical, but it really does work for any sceptics out there.

Pouring sweet potato cake batter into cake tins

We’ve made cakes with sweet potatoes, cassava and carrots in the past, you can even use beetroot and parsnips.

Cooked sweet potato cakes

The raw, grated sweet potato adds a moist sweetness and depth of flavour.

Frosted sweet potato cake

This sweet potato cake recipe also includes chopped walnuts and mixed ground spices, finished with a delicious cream cheese frosting.

Sweet potato cake with a slice removed

It’s a substantial yet light cake – the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

Sweet potato cake
Write a review
Print
For the cake
  1. 350g plain flour
  2. ¼tsp ground cloves
  3. 2tsp ground cinnamon
  4. 1¼tsp ground ginger
  5. ½tsp ground nutmeg
  6. 1tsp baking powder
  7. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  8. ½tsp salt
  9. 350g sweet potatoes, peeled & grated (about 3 small potatoes)
  10. 235ml vegetable oil
  11. 300g soft brown sugar
  12. 4 eggs
  13. 1tsp vanilla extract
  14. 100g chopped walnuts
For the frosting
  1. 225g cream cheese
  2. 115g butter, softened
  3. 175g icing sugar
  4. ½tsp vanilla extract
  5.  
  6. Home-made hot cross loaf ingredients
  7.  
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and grease a pair of 23cm/9-inch circular loose-bottomed cake tins
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour with the ground spices, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the grated sweet potato, vegetable oil and sugar and combine
  4. In a measuring jug lightly whisk the eggs before adding the vanilla extract. Stir to mix in
  5. Stir in the egg mixture to the sweet potato in 3 batches, stirring well after each addition
  6. Carefully fold the flour mixture into the sweet potato mixture
  7. Add the chopped walnuts and stir in so they're well dispersed through the batter
  8. Pour the batter equally between the two cake tins before baking for 20 minutes in the centre of the oven
  9. After the 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2 and cook for a further 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake come out clean
  10. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before taking the cakes out of their tins
  11. Allow to cool completely (at least another hour). Make the frosting.
For the frosting
  1. Mix the cream cheese and softened butter until there are no lumps
  2. Add the vanilla essence and icing sugar (sieve the sugar first if there are any lumps) and mix thoroughly. Cover with clingfilm and store in the fridge until the cakes have cooled and are ready to frost
  3. Once cooled, turn one of the cakes over so that the top is face down on a serving plate. Cover the top generously with frosting.
  4. Place the second cake on the first, with the top facing up. Cover the top generously with frosting. Serve. The cake will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Hot cross loaf

Home-made hot cross loaf | H is for Home

Easter has come around again. I can’t believe I’ve never made hot cross buns, one of the most the traditional foods of this time of year. I almost never eat them, they traditionally contain orange and lemon peel and zest which my digestive system doesn’t seem to enjoy.

Spiced syrup for glazing hot cross loaf

batter for making cross on hot cross loaf

Baking my own means that I can omit those ingredients and making a hot cross loaf means it’s much easier to toast – the best way to eat it! I bought three, what look to be original Victorian, loaf tins this week. I’ve been looking forward to trying them out on something.

Trio of Victorian loaf tin

Adding starter to flour

I adjusted a hot cross buns recipe from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s How to Make Bread. It’s probably the favourite of all my bread-making books because of all the great photos… and the fact that he has a bread-making method where there’s minimal kneading involved.

mixing dried fruit with dried spices

Mixing dried fruit into hot cross loaf dough

There are three main stages – the first two can be done a day or more in advance, allowing you to pace your bread-making and get other things done in between if you’re busy.

hot cross loaf dough in vintage tins

piping on to the top of hot cross loaf

The recipe made two medium-sized loaves, the best hot cross bread I’ve ever eaten. A gorgeous flavour and texture, toasted and slathered in butter… yum!

Hot cross loaf
Yields 2
Write a review
Print
For the glaze
  1. 225ml water
  2. 75g sugar
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 3 cloves
  5. 2 star anise
For the crosses
  1. 45ml water
  2. 20ml vegetable oil
  3. 40g plain flour
  4. ¼tsp salt
For the dough
  1. 10g fresh yeast or 5g active dry yeast
  2. 40g sugar
  3. 200ml warm water
  4. 200g plain flour
  5. 150g sultanas
  6. 150g currants
  7. 1tsp ground ginger
  8. 1tsp ground cinnamon
  9. ¼tsp ground cloves
  10. 200g strong bread flour
  11. ¼tsp salt
  12. 90g butter, softened
  13. 1 egg, beaten
  14.  
  15. Home-made hot cross loaf ingredients
  16.  
For the glaze
  1. Put the water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and star anise in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat and bring up to a boil
  3. Take off the heat and set aside in a cool place to allow the the spices to infuse. This glaze can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge to use repeatedly for this recipe
For the crosses
  1. In a measuring jug, combine the water and oil
  2. In a small bowl, mix the flour and salt
  3. Add the oil mixture to the flour & salt mixture and combine well until you get a soft, smooth paste
  4. Cove and set aside in a cool place until needed
For the dough
  1. Grease two 450g/1lb loaf tins
  2. In a (larger) mixing bowl, weigh out the yeast. Add the sugar and water and stir until dissolved
  3. Add the plain flour and combine until well mixed. This is the pre-ferment
  4. Cover the bowl and let ferment in a warm place until doubled in size - about half an hour
  5. While the pre-ferment rises, weigh out the dried fruit and spices, mix together and set aside
  6. In another (smaller) mixing bowl, mix together the strong bread flor and salt. This is the dry mixture
  7. Pull small pieces off the butter and lightly rub into the dry mixture using your fingertips until there are no more big lumps of butter
  8. Add the egg and risen pre-ferment to the flour mixture and combine with your hands until it comes together
  9. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes
  10. After the 10 minutes, with the dough remaining in the bowl, pull a portion of the dough up from the side ans press it in the middle. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat this process with another portion of the dough
  11. Cover the bowl again and let stand for 10 minutes
  12. Repeat steps 9 & 10 three times
  13. Add the reserved dried fruit mixture to the dough and knead gently until thoroughly mixed in
  14. Cover and let rise for half an hour
  15. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour
  16. Transfer the dough to the floured work surface and divide into 2 equal pieces
  17. Form each piece into rounded oblongs and place into the two greased loaf tins
  18. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size
  19. About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7. Place a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven to preheat. Fill a cup with water and set aside
  20. Fill a piping bag with the reserved mixture for the crosses. Pipe a cross across the top of each loaf
  21. Put the loaf tins into the oven, pour the reserved cupful of water onto the hot roasting tin and lower the temperature to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  22. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown
  23. Remove from the oven, brush lightly with the reserved glaze
  24. Allow to cool before slicing (toasting) and serving
Adapted from How to Make Bread
Adapted from How to Make Bread
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Spiced apple & sultana pie

Home-made spiced apple sultana pie | H is for Home

We’re coming to the end of British Pie Week so we’re getting involved again and making a pie.

Sliced ball of shortcrust pastry

At the mere mention of the word ‘pie’ we usually get involved – any excuse! Yes, the saying may go, “As American as apple pie”, but we’re famous for our apples here in Blighty – and have no doubt been using them in pies for centuries.

Peeled, cored and chopped apples

We’ve rustled up a spiced apple & sultana pie for our Cakes & Bakes post… it’s quite a comforting, wintery version of the simple classic.

Saucepan of chopped apples and Muscovado sugar

Crisp, buttery pastry with a soft, warm, cinnamon-infused fruity filling… and finished off with thick, cold cream of course.

Trimmed shortcrust pastry pie base

You might have a bit of pastry left over – if you do, don’t just bin it, use cutters to turn it into shapes or letters to adorn the top.

Home-made spiced apple sultana pie top

The perfect, celebratory Pie Week pie!

Spiced apple & sultana pie
Write a review
Print
For the pastry
  1. 240g/8½oz plain flour
  2. 120g/4¼oz cold butter
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 4tbs cold water
For the filling
  1. 4 Bramley apples - peeled, cored & chopped into 2cm chunks
  2. 50g/2oz butter
  3. 50g/2oz sultanas
  4. 75g/2½oz brown or Muscavado sugar
  5. ¼tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 2tbs milk
  7. 2tbs caster sugar
  8.  
  9. Home-made spiced apple & sultana pie ingredients
  10.  
For the pastry
  1. Grease a 9" diameter round pie dish
  2. Put the flour, butter and pinch of salt into a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition until the mixture comes together into a ball
  4. Flatten the ball into a disk and wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour
For the filling
  1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan before adding the chopped apple
  2. Add the sultanas and brown/Muscavado sugar and cook until the apple is slightly softened but still al dente
  3. Set aside to cool completely while you roll out the pie base
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
For the pie
  1. Divide the chilled pastry into two, one ⅓ and the other frac23;. Put the ⅓ back into the fridge
  2. Roll out the other piece into a round about ⅓cm thickness and line the dish, carefully pressing it flat cut off the excess around the rim leaving a ½cm overhang
  3. Prick the base with a fork, cover with baking beans (or dried peas like I do) and blind bake for 15 minutes
  4. Remove the pie base from the oven and set aside
  5. Remove the 2nd piece of pastry from the fridge, roll out into a round, again about ½cm
  6. Spoon the apple filling on to the cooled pastry base and cover with the pastry round. Press into the pastry base and trim any excess.
  7. Brush the top with milk, sprinkle with the caster sugar and put back into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top turns golden brown
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving with cream or vanilla ice cream
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/