We planted a rhubarb crown in a dolly tub in our garden about 3 years ago. Gardening/allotment experts say you should allow a young plant at least a year without harvesting to encourage vigour. We’ve finally felt able to pick a few stalks this year.
I’d normally use it to make a crumble however, I’ve never made a rhubarb upside-down cake before and thought it would go down a treat.
I tweaked a recipe I found on the Guardian website. The results were so delicious, I’m already planning on reusing the recipe to make a pear upside-down cake next week.
I love the pretty patterns that you can make with fruit on the ‘top’ of upside-down cakes.
The cake batter is one of the easiest I’ve ever thrown together. It calls for vegetable oil instead of butter, a couple of eggs, caster sugar, flour and baking powder – just mix the wet into the dry ingredients. It takes all of about 3 minutes!
The soft brown sugar and butter in the base of the skillet came together to form the most wonderful, chewy caramelised edges.
It was lovely with a little pouring cream but it would be equally good – hot or room temperature – with vanilla ice cream or on its own.
Never have I baked a cake that is more perfect for tea-time! As its name suggests, this Earl Grey tea and lemon cake is infused with oil of bergamot and drizzled with a lemon icing.
You begin by steeping Earl Grey tea in hot milk. We used a lovely loose leaf tea from Fortnum & Mason however Earl Grey teabags will suffice.
The recipe I used was by ex-Bake Off contestant, Urvashi Roe and it was originally for mini loaf cakes. I don’t have any mini loaf tins (yet!), so I used a single 500g/1lb loaf tin and upped the cook time to an hour.
I know that ‘lemony’ cakes often top the charts when it comes to people’s favourites (Justin included), but personally I’m not the biggest fan of lemon flavour – however, a little drizzle of the icing I could handle! I suppose I could supplement the lemon juice and zest with a little of my home-made elderflower cordial.
Teaming this cake with a cup of Earl Grey or full-bodied Darjeeling or Assam is tea-time heaven!
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
For the cake
Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and immerse the Earl Grey tea in the hot milk. Cover the pan and set aside for 40 minutes to allow the tea to steep
Strain the liquid from the leaves (or squeeze the liquid out of the teabags) and set the liquid aside to cool some more
Preheat the oven to 180°C/355ºF/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk or free standing mixer with a paddle attachment. It takes a while - about 10 minutes and you'll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time
Once the mixture is light & fluffy, add the eggs one by one and mix well. Add half the flour and half of the tea-infused milk and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and milk and mix until there are no traces of flour in the bowl
Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin
Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
Allow to cool in its tin on a wire rack
For the icing
Mix the lemon juice, zest and icing sugar together into a smooth paste. It should be quite gloopy so it doesn't dribble too much down the sides (though a little dribble is okay)
Pour over the loaf and leave the icing to set for about 30 minutes
The first bag of Agen prunes I bought didn’t last me very long at all. I ate three a day, every day, from the day they arrived. I also used a handful or so of them in a prune and Armagnac tart. I’ve reordered the prunes from Amazon and this week and have made a prune and almond fruitcake; something a bit different to the traditional ones made using raisins, currants, sultanas and candied peel.
Justin, once again, requested an afternoon fruitcake to accompany a cup of tea. He likes to stop work for a short break about 3pm before charging back into his daily chores!
I had about 100 grams of marzipan leftover from my recent batch of simnel cupcakes so I sliced it into little cubes and spooned it through the cake mixture; a deliciously successful addition!
As with most fruitcakes, if you can resist the temptation of slicing and eating it straight-away, the texture and flavour improves if left for a day or two.
Each Easter I like to make a dish that’s traditional for the celebration. Last year, I made a hot cross loaf; the year before that, a crescia and this year I’ve made simnel cupcakes.
A simnel cake is a fruit cake with a middle layer of marzipan and another layer on the top. Since Victorian times, the cake has been decorated with 11 or 12 little balls of marzipan. It was traditionally eaten on the middle Sunday of Lent – the 12 balls representing Christ and his 11 apostles (minus the 12th, Judas).
I have a confession to make, I’d never actually eaten a simnel cake until I made these. What have I been waiting for? They’re easy to make from scratch and are delicious! The idea of cooking them in used food tins is ingenious. A word of caution, however, try not to use ring-pull tins. They have a lip at the top that makes it difficult to ease the cake out after baking. I had to open the other end of the tin to get them out!
Even though I used small tins (150g Morrison’s own brand sweetcorn… around the size of small Heinz baked beans ones), we shared half a cake each.
Are cupcakes still all the rage? I never really got that into them, perhaps because I’m terrible at decorating them. The icing has to be perfect for me to really enjoy them. Crunchy icing puts my teeth on edge. It needs to be a sweet, flavoursome butter cream or cream cheese.
These jam-filled pound cupcakes don’t need any topping because the interest is all in the middle. I used some of my home-made mixed berry jelly from last autumn – there are always a few jars in the store cupboard. You can use any fruit jam, marmalade or lemon curd instead. Or what about a spoonful of Nutella? Mmmmmmmm…
I used a pound cake recipe I found in Marvellous Mini-Cakes – a little book full of teensy sweet & savoury cakes. I used to think a pound cake was a cake that weighed a pound! In actual fact, it’s a cake traditionally made with a pound each of its four main ingredients – butter, sugar, flour and eggs… so I guess it’s really a 4lb cake!
As tempting as they may be, please don’t attempt to eat these straight from the oven. The hot, molten jam will scald the roof of your mouth!