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
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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
  6. Home-made hot cross loaf ingredients
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

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
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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
  15. Home-made hot cross loaf ingredients
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

Cakes & Bakes: Brownie butter cake

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Slice of home made brownie butter cake | H is for Home

We have a very attractive offering for this week’s Cakes & Bakes post – isn’t this layered brownie butter cake pretty? The deep chocolate brown and the warm yellow are very pleasing to the eye. It’s a really good ‘tea & cake’ kind of cake which scores even more points.

Home-made brownie butter cake

It’s the perfect thing for the two of us here at H is for Home headquarters as Adelle loves chocolate brownie and Justin loves butter cake. And both of us think the combination works really well. Correction, make that the three of us here… Fudge loves the crumbs!

Brownie butter cake
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For the brownie layer
  1. 140g/5oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  2. 50g/1¾oz butter
  3. 50g/1¾oz soft brown sugar
  4. 1 egg
  5. 35g/1¼oz plain flour
For the butter cake layer
  1. 120g/4oz butter
  2. 100g//3½oz caster sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 120g/4oz plain flour
  5. ¼tsp baking powder
  6. 50ml/3½tbsp milk
  8. Home-made brownie butter cake ingredients
  1. Grease 10cm x 20cm/4" × 8" loaf tin
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
To make the brownie
  1. Put the chocolate and butter into a heat-proof bowl and melt using a saucepan of water low heat. Make sure the water does not come into contact with the bottom of the heat-proof bowl
  2. Remove the bowl and leave to cool slightly
  3. Stir in brown sugar until well combined
  4. Add the egg and mix well
  5. Fold in the flour, again mixing until well combined
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes
  7. Remove and lower the oven to 160ºC/320ºF/Gas mark 3
For the butter cake
  1. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy
  2. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  3. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder, alternately adding in the milk
  4. Spread the butter cake dough evenly over the brownie, bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
  5. Allow to cool in the tin before turning out on to a serving plate
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
H is for Home Harbinger

Price Points: Pressure cookers

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Three pressure cookers | H is for Home

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know I’ve just got my hands on a pressure cooker. It’s a Prestige – who are almost the ‘Hoover’ or ‘Google’ of pressure cookers… Although I don’t think ‘to Prestige’ will be becoming a verb any time soon. 🙂 It’s a good, robust, basic model that’s already on its way to becoming a kitchen stalwart. I’m already hooked – it cooks food in about a ⅓ of the time of a conventional saucepan on the stove-top.

If you fancy something more fancy (and more pricey) Heston Blumenthal has developed one in collaboration with Sage which is a pressure cooker AND a slow cooker and has all the bells & whistles any kitchen scientist could wish for. The Swiss-made Kuhn Rikon example comes with two separate pans which is handy if you don’t always cook in the same quantities.

  1. Prestige 6 litre high dome pressure cooker: £35.99, Argos
  2. Sage™ The Fast Slow Pro™: £199.99, Lakeland
  3. Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Supreme pressure cooker set, 2-piece, (4 L / 6 L): £362, Amazon

Cakes & Bakes: Tear & share smoked garlic bread

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Home made tear & share smoked garlic bread | H is for Home

We’ve got a delicious tear and share smoked garlic bread for this week’s Cakes & Bakes post.

oven pans wiped with smoked garlic butter and sprinkled with breadcrumbs

The majority of the recipe comes courtesy of Jamie Oliver with a few additions, omissions and twists. I can almost hear him say that, so it’s very apt.

Dough balls being made into tear & share smoked garlic bread

Jamie’s recipe uses plain, fresh cloves of garlic. I used the smoked garlic bulb that we had in our veg rack. I omitted the chopped parsley when making the garlic butter – I can’t stand it – despite the fact that the breath freshening properties would come in handy! Finally, he adds a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper which I swapped for smoked paprika – double smoky loveliness!

smoked garlic butter made in a mini-food frocessor

It has lots of air, yet it’s substantial too. The breadcrumbs are a revelation, adding a great crispy crunch. The garlic butter is punchy & intense. We used the word delicious at the start, but we’ll also throw in flavoursome, comforting and generally stupendous!

Tear & share smoked garlic bread in a pan | H is for Home

It’s the perfect bread to have on the side of a saucy pasta dish or bowl of salad.

Tear & share smoked garlic bread
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For the bread
  1. 800g/28oz strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 7g/¼oz dried yeast
  3. 1tsp salt
  4. 550ml/19 fl oz tepid water
  5. 100g/3½oz stale breadcrumbs
For the garlic butter
  1. ½ bulb smoked garlic
  2. 250g/9oz butter, softened
  3. 1tsp smoked paprika
  4. pinch of sea salt
  6. Home-made tear & share smoked garlic bread ingredients
  1. Put the flour, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sea salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle
  2. Gradually pour in the water, continuously stirring and bringing in the flour from the outside as you go to form a rough dough
  3. Transfer to a flour-dusted surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and springy
  4. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size
  5. Use this time to make the butter. Use a garlic crusher or mini-food processor to crush the garlic into the softened butter
  6. Add the smoked paprika and a pinch of salt, then mix it all together
  7. Remove half to use in this recipe, then spoon the rest onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, roll it up into a log and twist the ends like a Christmas cracker, then pop into the freezer for up to 6 months for future use
  8. Using a pastry brush, spread ⅓ of your soft butter portion all around the base and sides of a large metal tray (25cm x 35cm), then scatter in the breadcrumbs and shake around into an even layer so they stick to the butter
  9. Divide up the dough into 35 pieces, then, one-by-one, roll each one into a ball and place into the tray in rows – 5 balls across and 7 balls long is perfect
  10. Brush over another ⅓ of the soft butter, in and around the balls
  11. Leave to prove for another hour and a half or until doubled in size again
  12. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5
  13. Sprinkle the balls with a little sea salt before baking on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, or until lovely and golden
  14. Brush over that final ⅓ of butter spreading it around to give the bread a beautiful shine
  15. Serve straight away
Adapted from Jamie's Comfort Food
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Carrot muffins

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Home-made carrot muffins | H is for Home

Earlier this week, Justin bought a big bag of special offer carrots… and then, couple of days later, his mum gave us half a bag of her bulk buy special offer carrots. We had a sudden glut!

grated carrot, sultanas and chopped walnuts

So this week’s cake baking had to utilise some!

Adding pineapple to egg white, milk and vegetable oil mixture

Fortunately we do love a good carrot cake, but decided on a little twist by making some carrot muffins with spiced Quark topping.

Spooning carrot muffin batter into cases

Cinnamon and pineapple are the dominant flavours – there’s a hint of ginger in there too.

Carrot muffins cooling on a wire rack

Quark a fairly unusual ingredient with a taste and consistency somewhere between crème fraîche and cream cheese. We think it worked really well.

Quark, sugar and cinnamon for muffin topping

The resulting muffins are moist and full of flavour – and just a little bit different.

Adding Quark topping to the carrot muffins

It’s an easy recipe, so a batch can be knocked up quickly.

Home-made carrot muffins | H is for Home

They’re a great partner for that afternoon cup of tea we talked about recently.

Carrot muffins
Yields 12
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the muffins
  1. 2tbs vegetable oil
  2. 100g/3½oz plain flour
  3. 100g/3½oz wholemeal flour
  4. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  5. ¼tsp salt
  6. 1tsp ground cinnamon
  7. ½tsp ground ginger
  8. 2tbsp caster sugar
  9. 2 egg whites
  10. 5tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  11. 225g/8oz canned pineapple chunks in juice, drained & chopped
  12. 250g/9oz carrots, grated
  13. 40g/1½oz sultanas
  14. 40g/1½oz walnuts, chopped
For the topping
  1. 250g/9oz Quark (or any low-fat soft cream cheese)
  2. 1½tbsp caster sugar
  3. 1½tsp vanilla essence
  4. 1½tsp ground cinnamon
  6. Home-made carrot muffin ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 5. Oil a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable or line it with muffin paper cases
  2. Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger into a mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar and mix together
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites then pour the milk and the oil and mix together
  4. Mash the pineapple chunks, then add to the egg mixture
  5. Add the carrots, sultanas and walnuts and stir together gently
  6. Add the fruit mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir together until just combined. Do not over-stir the mixture - it is fine for it to be a little lumpy
  7. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cups in the muffin tin or paper cases (they should be about ⅔s full)
  8. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until risen and golden
  9. While the muffins are in the oven, make the topping. Put the Quark into a mixing bowl with the caster sugar, vanilla essence and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Mix together well, then cover with clingfilm and transfer to the fridge until ready to use
  10. When the muffins are cooked, remove them from the oven, put them on a wire rack and leave to cool. When they have cooled to room temperature, remove the topping from the fridge and spread some evenly over the top of each muffin
  11. Lightly sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon and serve
Adapted from Muffins
Adapted from Muffins
H is for Home Harbinger