Cakes & Bakes: Rhubarb upside-down cake

Slice of home-made rhubarb upside-down cake with cream | H is for Home

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.

Rhubarb plant in a vintage dolly tub in our garden | H is for Home

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.

Soft brown sugar and butter in a cast iron skillet | H is for Home

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.

Sliced rhubarb in a cast iron skillet | H is for Home

I love the pretty patterns that you can make with fruit on the ‘top’ of upside-down cakes.

cake batter ingredients | H is for Home

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!

Cooked rhubarb upside-down cake still in the skillet | H is for Home

The soft brown sugar and butter in the base of the skillet came together to form the most wonderful, chewy caramelised edges.

Home-made rhubarb upside-down cake | H is for Home

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.

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Rhubarb upside-down cake
Serves 8
Ingredients
  1. 80g/3oz diced unsalted butter and a bit more for greasing
  2. 140g/5oz soft brown sugar
  3. 4-5 stalks rhubarb
  4. 150g/5¼oz caster sugar
  5. 175g/6oz plain flour
  6. 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  7. 150ml/5 fl oz sunflower oil
  8. 2 large eggsHome-made rhubarb upside-down-cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease a 30cm/12-inch cast iron skillet with a little butter
  3. Scatter the brown sugar and butter over the bottom of the skillet and put it in the oven for 5 minutes
  4. Remove the skillet from the oven and press the raw rhubarb into the melted butter and sugar
  5. Mix the sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl
  6. In a measuring jug, beat the vegetable oil and eggs together
  7. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well
  8. Pour the batter over the rhubarb in the skillet and return the pan to the oven for about 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the skillet on the top of the stove before running a sharp knife around the rim and carefully turning the pan upside down on to a plate
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Adapted from The Guardian
Adapted from The Guardian
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
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Cakes & Bakes: Earl Grey tea and lemon cake

Slices of Earl Grey tea and lemon cake with cups of tea | H is for Home

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.

Earl Grey tea steeped in a saucepan hot milk | H is for Home

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.

Mixing Earl Grey tea and lemon cake ingredients | H is for Home

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.

Earl Grey tea and lemon cake batter in a loaf tin | H is for Home Baked Earl Grey tea and lemon cake | H is for Home

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.

Slice of lemon, juicer, zester and icing sugar | H is for Home

Teaming this cake with a cup of Earl Grey or full-bodied Darjeeling or Assam is tea-time heaven!

Drizzling lemon icing over Earl Grey tea cake | H is for Home

Click here to pin this recipe for later!

Earl Grey tea and lemon cake
Serves 8
For the cake
  1. 125ml/4½fl oz milk
  2. 4 tsp loose Earl Grey tea (or 4 tea bags)
  3. 115g/4oz butter, softened
  4. 225g/8oz caster sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
  7. 125g/4½oz plain flour
For the icing
  1. ½ lemon, juice & zest
  2. 200g/7oz icing sugar
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For the cake
  1. 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
  2. Strain the liquid from the leaves (or squeeze the liquid out of the teabags) and set the liquid aside to cool some more
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/355ºF/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  8. Allow to cool in its tin on a wire rack
For the icing
  1. 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)
  2. Pour over the loaf and leave the icing to set for about 30 minutes
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Adapted from Great British Chefs
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

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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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!

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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/