Cakes & Bakes: Prune and almond fruitcake

Slice of home-made prune and almond fruit cake | H is for Home

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.

Home-made prune and almond fruit cake mixture | H is for Home

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!

Prune and almond fruit cake mixture in cake tin | H is for Home Prune and almond fruit cake in cake tin | H is for Home

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!

Home-made prune and almond fruit cake | H is for Home

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.

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

Prune and almond fruit cake
Serves 8
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 115g butter, softened
  2. 115g soft brown sugar
  3. 2 eggs, whisked slightly
  4. 175g self-raising flour
  5. ¼tsp almond extract
  6. 200g pitted prunes
  7. 1tbsp flaked almondsHome-made prune and almond fruit cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease a deep 18cm/7-in spring-form or loose-bottomed round cake tin and line base & sides with baking parchment
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  4. Pour the eggs over the mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a tablespoonful of the flour between each addition to help prevent the mixture curdling
  5. Mix in the almond extract
  6. Fold in the rest of the self-raising flour and combine well
  7. Gently fold the prunes, stirring with a wooden spoon until well distributed through the mixture
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level off the top with the back of the spoon
  9. Sprinkle the top with the flaked almonds
  10. Bake for 1&frac;12 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  11. Once done, remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in its tin
Notes
  1. Store in an airtight lidded cake tin or plastic tub
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Cakes & Bakes: Simnel cupcakes

Home-made Simnel cupcakes | H is for Home

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.

Circles of home-made marzipan and tins with simnel cupcake mixture | H is for Home

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).

Simnel cupcakes baked in food tins | H is for Home Tops sliced off of simnel cupcakes | H is for Home

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!

Home-made simnel cupcakes | H is for Home

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.

Click here or on the image below to pin the recipe for later!

Home-made simnel cupcakes recipe | H is for Home

Simnel cupcakes
Yields 4
For the marzipan
  1. 150g/5oz ground almonds
  2. 200g/7oz icing sugar + extra for rolling
  3. 2tsp almond extract
  4. 1 egg white
For the cake mixture
  1. 115g/4oz butter, softened
  2. 115g/4oz caster sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
  5. 300g/10½oz mixed dried fruit ( any of currants, raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, glacé cherries)
  6. 1tsp mixed spice (I didn't have any, so I made my own mixture)
  7. 4tbsp apricot jam (I used some home-made plum jam)
  8. cocoa powder, for dustingHome-made simnel cupcakes ingredients
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For the marzipan
  1. Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, almond extract and egg white into a food processor and combine until a thick ball of dough is formed
  2. Turn the paste out onto a work surface and knead it a few times. Roll it into a log and wrap in cling film until the cake mixture has been made
  3. Any unused marzipan will keep for a month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer
For the cake
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2. Line the base and sides of each tin with baking parchment
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy
  3. Add one of the eggs and combine until well mixed. Add the other egg with 1 tbsp of flour and mix again
  4. Stir in the rest of the four and all of the dried fruit
  5. Liberally sprinkle some icing sugar on a work surface and roll out the marzipan. Cut out 8 circles about ½cm thick and the same diameter as the tins
  6. Divide half the cake mixture between the tins and level the tops. Put a marzipan rounds on top of each and cover with the rest of the cake mixture
  7. Bake for an hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes away clean
  8. Allow the cakes to cool in their for 15 minutes before remove them to cool completely on a wire rack
  9. Trim the top of each cake with a sharp knife to make them flat
  10. Heat the jam and brush on the top of each cakes before cover each with the remaining marzipan rounds
  11. Make 36 mini balls with the remaining marzipan. Put 9 balls around the edge of each cake, using a little brush of jam to stick them in place
  12. Lightly sprinkle with cocoa powder
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Jam-filled pound cupcakes

Home-made jam-filled pound cupcakes | H is for Home

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.

Separated eggs | H is for Home Whisked egg whites | H is for Home

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…

Putting cake dough into cupcake cases | H is for Home Putting jam into cupcake cases | H is for Home

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!

Home-made jam-filled pound cupcakes | H is for Home

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!

Click here to save this recipe for later.

Jam-filled pound cupcakes
Yields 6
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 120g/4¼oz salted butter
  2. 120g/4¼oz caster sugar
  3. 2 eggs, separated
  4. 120g/4¼oz plain flour, sifted
  5. 2 scant tsp baking powder
  6. pinch of salt
  7. jamHome-made jam-filled pound cupcakes ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease a muffin tin and dust with flour or add cupcake/muffin cases
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture turns pale and becomes smooth
  4. Add the egg yolks, flour and salt and combine
  5. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites
  6. Add them gradually to the mixture
  7. Add the baking powder
  8. As soon as you have stirred in the baking powder, put a dessert-spoonful of cake mixture in each cupcake hole/case
  9. Add a teaspoonful of jam to the centre of each cake
  10. Cover with the remaining cake mixture, ensuring that the jam is fully covered by the cake mix
  11. Put in the oven straight away
  12. Bake for about 20 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, prick with a skewer if it comes away clean, the cupcakes are done
  13. Allow to cool slightly before turning them out of the tin
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Adapted from Les Petits Plats Francais: Marvellous Mini-Cakes
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Chocolate and beetroot cake

Slice of home-made chocolate and beetroot cake | H is for Home

We’re still in the throes of our love affair with the humble beetroot! The two previous recipes we shared here were savoury bread products. Today it’s a chocolate and beetroot cake.

Grating fresh beetroot | H is for Home

I borrowed a recipe from Jamie Oliver – it’s a ‘healthy eating’ one that he devised for cooking with children.

Melting chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of water | H is for Home

Instead of flour, it contains ground almonds and there’s a minimal amount of sugar as the beetroot gives sweetness.

Separated egg yolks, grated beetroot and dry ingredients | H is for Home

The beetroot also gives it a deep and slightly earthy flavour – and works surprisingly well with chocolate.

Chocolate and beetroot cake batter in a loose-bottom cake tin | H is for Home

It doesn’t have a light and airy consistency, it’s more like brownie than sponge cake – even with carefully folding in the egg whites…

Cooked chocolate and beetroot cake cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

…not that I’m complaining – it was really, really good!

Home-made chocolate and beetroot cake with chocolate drizzled over the top | H is for Home

If you have kids (or even adults!) that won’t eat their vegetables – this is a wonderfully clandestine way of sneaking some into their diet!

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later!

Chocolate and beetroot cake
Ingredients
  1. 300g/10½oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  2. 250g/9oz raw beetroot
  3. 4 large free-range eggs
  4. 150g/5¼oz golden caster sugar
  5. 120g/4¼oz ground almonds
  6. 1 tsp baking powder
  7. 1 tbsp cocoa powderHome-made chocolate and beetroot cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4
  2. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8" spring-form cake tin
  3. Use scissors to cut out a circle of greaseproof paper, roughly the same size as the bottom of the tin, and use it to line the base
  4. Break 200g of the chocolate up into small pieces and add to a heatproof bowl
  5. Place the bowl on top of a small pan of simmering water over a medium heat, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water, and allow to melt, stirring occasionally
  6. Once melted, carefully remove from the heat and set aside
  7. Peel & grate the beetroot then tip it into a large mixing bowl
  8. Separate the eggs, placing the whites into a large clean mixing bowl and adding the yolks to the beetroot
  9. Stir the sugar, almonds, baking powder, cocoa powder and melted chocolate into the beetroot and combine well
  10. Whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks
  11. Using a spatula, fold ¼ of the egg whites into the beetroot mixture to loosen then, once combined, fold in the rest trying not to over mix
  12. Add the mixture to the prepared cake tin and spread out evenly using a spatula
  13. Bake for around 50 minutes, or until risen and cooked through
  14. To check if it's done, insert a skewer into the middle. If it comes away clean the cake's cooked
  15. Allow the cake to cool slightly, then carefully turn it out on to a wire rack to cool completely
  16. Once cool, melt the rest of the chocolate (in the same way as above), and drizzle over the top
Notes
  1. Serve with crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt
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Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: White velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting

Slice of home-made white velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting | H is for Home

My chicken-sitting ended yesterday, I really enjoyed looking after them, they’re all such characters. During my 10 days of fostering, we must have got almost 100 eggs! We gave a few away and ate loads of omelettes, French toast and plenty of fried/boiled/poached eggs.

Baked white velvet cakes in their tins | H is for Home

Last week, I made a delicious all-yolk layer cake and, as promised, this week it’s an all whites one. It’s Rose Levy Beranbaum’s white velvet cake. Sometimes with this type of recipe, what you’re trying to achieve is a cake as white as pure, fresh snow. If that’s the case, you can make a few minor adjustments to the original cake recipe below.

Home-made white velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting | H is for Home

Instead of using vanilla extract, use white caster sugar that has been stored in an airtight jar along with a split vanilla pod for a few weeks so that the flavour infuses. Some people swear by the use of shortening such as Stork which gives less colour than butter. Other people who care more about the taste than the colour say that butter is far superior.

Have a look at the pair of YouTube videos below the recipe where Rose herself shows us how it’s done!

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

White velvet cake
For the cake
  1. 4½ large egg whites
  2. 240ml/8½ fl oz milk
  3. 2¼tsp vanilla extract
  4. 300g/10½oz bleached cake flour*, sifted
  5. 300g/10½oz caster sugar
  6. 1tbsp + 1tsp baking powder
  7. ¼tsp salt
  8. 170g/6oz butter, softened
For the frosting
  1. 275ml/9¾ fl oz whipping cream
  2. 225g/8oz mascarpone
  3. 125g/4½oz icing sugarHome-made white velvet cake ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
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For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease two 23cm x 4cm (9-in x 1½-in) cake tins, line the bottoms with parchment paper, then grease again and flour
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, lightly combine the egg whites, ¼ of the milk and vanilla extract
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend
  5. Add the butter and remaining ¾ of the milk. Mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened
  6. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1½ minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure
  7. Scrape down the sides
  8. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure
  9. Scrape down the sides again
  10. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans should be about half full
  11. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the centre comes away clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven
  12. Allow the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes
  13. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto two other greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, flip over again so that the tops face up. Allow to cool completely before frosting
For the frosting
  1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the whipping cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or the cream will become grainy)
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and icing sugar until smooth
  3. Gently fold the whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated
  4. Use immediately to frost the top of one cake
  5. Place the other cake on top of the first and frost the top & sides
Notes
  1. *If like me you're based in the UK and find it hard to find bleached cake flour in the shops, have a look at Kate Coldrick's meticulous method to make your own version
Print
Adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
part I
 
part II



Cakes & Bakes: Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing

Slice of home-made yellow layer cake | H is for Home

Our neighbours have gone on holiday this week and have asked me to look after their chickens again. They have about twice as many chickens as they did last time… so that means twice as many eggs every day.

Separated eggs | H is for Home

I’ve been looking into recipes where you use lots of just yolks and just whites – as I don’t like to waste half the eggs. I found a couple of recipes by Rose Levy Beranbaum that fit the bill. I’ll be attempting her favourite yellow layer cake this week.

Flour, butter & sugar in a food mixer bowl | H is for Home

I decided to make the yolks-only cake first as I discovered, on my online travels, that egg whites can be easily and successfully frozen for use at a later date. Yolks take a little more effort. The yellow layer cake I made today – as you’ve probably deduced – uses just egg yolks.

Yellow layer cake batter in an orange vintage Kenwood food mixer | H is for Home

It also uses bleached cake flour, something you don’t tend to find in supermarkets here in the UK. I took a lengthy detour on the website of Rose’s Devon-based friend, Kate Coldrick, who shows you in great detail how to make your own substitute.

Yellow layer cake batter in a round baking tin | H is for Home Yellow layer cake cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

I followed both Rose’s and Kate’s instructions almost to the letter, hoping that I’d produce a cake like never before.

Yellow layer cake sliced in half horizontally | H is for Home Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing in the centre and on the top | H is for Home

The sponge was light & airy and the texture was crumbly. I teamed it with a vanilla buttercream icing which complements, not overpowers the flavour.

Detail of a yellow layer cake with buttercream icing | H is for home

Stay tuned next week Thursday for my egg white recipe! Click here or on the image below to pin the recipe for later!

Yellow layer cake recipe | H is for Home

Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing
Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
For the cake
  1. 4 large egg yolks
  2. 160g/5½oz sour cream
  3. 1½tsp vanilla extract
  4. 200g/7oz bleached cake flour*
  5. ½tsp baking powder
  6. ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  7. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  8. ¼tsp salt
  9. 170g/6oz butter, softened
For the icing
  1. 250g/9oz butter, softened
  2. ½tsp vanilla extract
  3. 300g/10½oz icing sugar
  4. 1tbsp milk
Add ingredients to shopping list
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
  1. Grease a 23cm/9-inch spring-form cake tin then line it with parchment paper
  2. 20 minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, lightly combine the yolks, about ¼ of the sour cream and the vanilla
  4. In a stand mixer bowl, with paddle attachment, combine the cake flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt
  5. Mix on a low speed for 30 seconds to blend
  6. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream and mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened
  7. Increase to medium speed, or high speed if using a hand held mixer and beat for 1 minute to aerate and develop the structure
  8. Scrape down the sides
  9. Gradually add the egg mixture in 2 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition until fully incorporated
  10. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes away clean and it springs back when pressed lightly in the centre
  11. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes
  12. Loosen the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula, and remove the sides of the spring-form tin
  13. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and flip it again onto a second rack it so that the top faces up
  14. Allow to cool completely before slicing in half horizontally and icing the middle and top
For the icing
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and vanilla essence
  2. Blend in the icing sugar, a quarter at a time, beating well after each addition
  3. Beat in the milk and continue mixing until light and fluffy
  4. Keep the icing covered until ready to use
Notes
  1. *If like me you're based in the UK and find it hard to find bleached cake flour in the shops, have a look at Kate Coldrick's meticulous method to make your own version
Print
Adapted from The Baking Bible
Adapted from The Baking Bible
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/