No Fail Chocolate cake

This is the recipe I go back to time and time again basically because it is easy, full of flavour and very light in the mouth. When I have my hands full with those more and more complicated birthday cakes, this chocolate cake never fails me to get ahead with no worry and it keeps very well!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 200g/ 7oz sugar
  • 90ml/3fl oz milk, room temperature
  • 250g/9oz soften butter
  • 250g/9oz white self raising flour
  • 60g/2oz cocoa powder
  • 1½tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp good espresso or coffee powder *optional but it brings out the chocolate flavour

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/160°fan/ Gas 4 and prepare a 23cm/ 9″ round or square cake tin
  • Beat the eggs and add the sugar, mixing until light and fluffy

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  • Add the milk and make sure it is well incorporated
  • I change to my paddle attachment and chop the butter into the mixture

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  • In a bowl, sieve together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and coffee
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and beat really well till soft and larger in volume. It does take a few minutes hence the mixer!

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  • Spoon into the prepared tin (I sprinkled chocolate chips because I didn’t want to ice it later) and bake for 55 to 60mn, until dark, slightly firm and the sides shrink from the tin

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  • Leave in the tin to cool completely then dust with icing sugar or top with a simple chocolate buttercream

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Apple Meringue Cake

083When apples are in season, this is one way of spreading the joy….

Ingredients

Apple filling:

  • 3-4 medium apples, peeled and sliced
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp flour

Cake batter:

  • 190g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 190g butter at room temperature
  • 90g sugar
  • 3 egg yolks (see below)
  • 45g sour cream (or crème fraiche)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon extract

Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 120g sugar

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/160°fan/ Gas 4 and prepare a 23cm/ 9″ round cake tin, springform if available
  • Prepare the apples by combining all the ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside until required
  • Cake batter: in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the yolks, cream and cinnamon extract

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  • Stir in the dry ingredients until well combined

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  • Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the apple slices on top. Bake as is for 30mn

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  • Prepare the meringue topping by whipping the egg whites until foamy, ideally with a mixer. Gradually add the sugar, whipping the whole time (hence the mixer!) until it holds very stiff peaks
  • Remove the pan from the oven and top it with the meringue

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  • Return to the oven for another 20mn until golden brown (expect it to rise a little)

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  • Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan and let it cool slightly at room temperature before serving

American Cherry Pie

It is Cherry season! We love them in our house so when a friend asked me to come round to help picking, I didn’t wait to be asked twice! The eating is well worth the effort…. I knew the moment my older son saw them, he would ask for an “American style” cherry pie: I have only ever made them out of a “packet”, I had to figure out my own version….

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Cherry filling: I made it the day before as we return from picking….

  • About 2 cups of pitted cherries, 500g
  • 100 sugar ( I used my vanilla infused)
  • 8tsp cornstarch
  • 1tsp vanilla extract + 1tbsp lemon juice
  1. Place the cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a pan and allow to stand for 10mn until the sugar draws out the juice from the fruit                                   021
  2. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then lower the heat, simmering for 1mn
  3. Remove from the pan and stir in the vanilla extract and lemon juice (as sour as you prefer)
  4. Allow to cool to lukewarm if used on the day. I covered mine and left it at room temperature

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Ingredients:

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry:

  • 250g flour
  • 160g cold butter, diced
  • 50ml milk, at room temperature
  • 3g salt
  • 15g vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg yolk

Biscuit topping:

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 50g butter, diced
  • 60g sugar
  • 1tsp ground vanilla
  • 70ml milk + extra for glazing

Preparation:

Basically, I was having a food processor day, so much easier!

Pastry:

  • At a low speed, mix the flour, butter, sugar and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Add the milk and yolk and mix a few seconds until it has an even consistency
  • Rest in the fridge for at least an hour
  • Grease or line a 26cm/10″ pie tin (mine is loose bottom) and preheat oven to 180°C/ 160°fan/ Gas 4
  • Roll the pastry out and transfer to tin ( I had too much so froze 1/3)
  • Bake blind for 20 to 30mn

Biscuit:

  • Once the pastry is out of the oven, turn it up to 200/180
  • At low speed, mix the flour, ground vanilla and butter together until it makes fine breadcrumbs
  • Add sugar and the milk and mix to form a soft dough

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  • Roll it out roughly
  • Spread the cherry mixture into the pastry case

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  • Top with the biscuit dough, make some cuts for venting and glaze with milk

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  • Bake in the oven for 45mn but do check after 30mn as you might need to cove your biscuit with foil once it’s golden

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  • Leave to cool for 5mn before turning out onto a wire rack. Eat warm or cold!

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Le Gâteau Magique à la Vanille de Madagascar

The Magic Cake…. I saw the word magic and of course couldn’t contain myself! Within 24hrs I was savouring the magic and it is a perfect summer’s cake: best served straight from the fridge. How did it get its name? when you slice it, it presents 3 distinct layers: flan at the bottom, custard like in the middle and a sponge at the top. all that from one batter.016

There are a few golden rules to follow for a perfect result which will wow friends and family!

  1. Pan size: ideally no bigger than 22cm {my batter quantity matches that size} too big, the layers will be too thin and too small, you might lose out on the egg whites addition and the sponge will be too thin
  2. Folding in the egg whites: the mix at that stage is very liquid, use a whisk and by hand, incorporate them slowly, breaking them slightly but you must be left with some lumps floating
  3. Baking time: it is what it is but ovens vary. At the end of the baking, the cake must still be slightly wobbly and golden. And yes, it can be done in a fan oven!
  4. Once out, LEAVE IT! to cool down. It will deflate. Once cool enough, again leave it in the pan, refrigerate for a minimum of 2hrs. After that time, it can be turned out
  5. Some flavours might require more time in the fridge…. so it can’t be done last minute!

Ingredients:

  • 500ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod ( straight from Madagascar, thanks to my good friend Caroline)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 100g caster sugar (mine has vanilla pods infusing it)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 115g plain flour
  • 1 pinch of salt

Preparation:

  • Scrape the seeds from the pod and add it to the milk with the pod
  • Heat up the milk, without boiling it, then remove from heat and set aside for an hour for the vanilla to infuse it completely

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  • Preheat oven at 150º/ fan 140º
  • Ideally, use a standing mixer. Cream the yolks and sugar together with the water until light and fluffy
  • Add the melted butter and flour and beat for a good 3mn

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  • Take the pod out of the milk and pour it slowly, beating at low speed

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  • Leave aside at room temperature
  • Whisk the egg whites up with a pinch of salt until they are stiff
  • Incorporate to the liquid batter, slowly. you must be left with a lumpy mixture

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  • Grease a pan and dust with flour. It can’t be springform or loose bottom: best is actually the dreaded silicon
  • Bake for 50 to 55mn: test for a slight wobble
  • Leave on a wire rack to cool then refrigerate for at least 2hrs for the magic to happen

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♥♥♥ How about coffee flavoured? Already tried and tasted!

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  • Same ingredients but instead of the vanilla pod, infuse the milk with 20g of good espresso powder

Courgette cake

As part of my Courgette day, to accompany the puff potato and courgette pie…. clearly I had an abundance of courgettes!

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For this one, I was inspired by a recipe from Anna Olson and made it my own…. I will add the American measurements which  I used this time as many times have I heard it doesn’t work the same… it does!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter – 125g
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup sugar – 130g ( I mixed in light brown for colour)
  • 1 to 2 tsp of finely grated orange zest: as you prefer but you don’t want it to overpower the taste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup flour – 200g
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ salt
  • ½ tsp ground vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup grated courgettes, loosely packed
  • chocolate chips, as little or as much as wanted

Streusel topping:

as in: https://farandoleofcakes.com/2014/07/17/banana-cake-with-streusel-topping/ but substitute 1 tbsp of cocoa powder with flour

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/ 160°fan/ Gas 4 and grease or line a loaf tin
  • Beat the butter, eggs, sugar, zest and vanilla extract together in a large bowl
  • In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and vanilla powder
  • Stir in the courgette to coat it with the flour
  • Add this to the wet mixture, stirring until just blended.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips (if using) and scrape the batter into the prepared pan
  • Top evenly with streusel
  • Bake in the oven for 50 to 60mn, until tester comes out clean
  • Cool the cake completely in the pan until turning out to slice and enjoy!

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Dried Figs and Apricot Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

I baked this because I was left with so many dried figs that just eating them wasn’t going to make them disappear…. the perfect excuse for a cake that might not sound that interesting, doesn’t have that “wow” look about it but just taste soooo nice, and so the neighbours still mention it, I might have to make another one! Perfect for Coffee!

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Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 cup of dried figs, chopped up (scissors work best here)
  • 1 cup of dried apricots, chopped up, mixed with dried strawberries, just to try

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  • 420g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 170g soft butter
  • 175 sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250ml crème fraiche (sour cream)

Streusel:

In a small bowl, combine:

  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 60g soft butter
  • 40g flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

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Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/ 160°fan/ Gas 4. Grease and flour a 28cm/ 11″ ring tube springform pan
  • Sift together the first 5 dry ingredients and take 1 tbsp of the flour mixture to sprinkle over the dried fruits to stop them from sinking into the cake whilst baking
  • In a stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy then slowly add the sugar and cream together
  • Add one egg at a time, beating for at least 3mn after the last addition
  • Add the vanilla extract and not to worry if it looks curdled

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  • Add the flour mixture alternating with the cream, starting and finishing with the dry
  • Fold in the fruits by hand
  • Spoon 1/3 of the cake batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle half of the streusel. repeat that layer and top with the last of the batter

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  • Bake into the middle of the oven for 50 to 60mn ( mine took 55 exactly). Remove to a wire rack and let it cool for 20mn

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  • Remove from the pan to let cool completely. A dusting of icing sugar completes the picture

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Football Cake

It might be a bit strange to post now about a cake I made over a month ago but With work and my computer playing up, it is only now that I am managing to post about my 2nd son’s birthday…. The idea came to me 2 weeks before the due date, at night as sleep eluded me: he hadn’t asked about his cake yet ( the usual being whatever cake with an icing cake topper picture) and I was thing, he loves football so what about…..

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I am sharing this with you to show you that anyone can do that sort of thing: I had never attempted anything of the sort before and I am no professional! All you need is to get organised, this was done over 3 days!

  • Day 1: bake a chocolate cake, simple 8″ round cake and once cooled put it in the food processor to make it into breadcrumbs. Mix in a chocolate fudge made to taste and enough to bind it all together into a ball

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  • Day 2: I bake another chocolate cake, rectangular this time, as my hubby pointed out the ball had to be perched somewhere! That’s when I came up with the idea of a “pitch”…. Covered with chocolate buttercream

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  • Day 3: I spent the morning just decorating…. I had cut out polygon shapes on icing paper to create an exact football but quite frankly it became too fiddly and geometrical for my liking…. did you know that on a football, the white shapes have 6 sides and the black ones only 5? you do now!

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And it doesn’t have to be to size either! That was just enough to feed about 10 hungry boys!

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Nutella Brioche Star

Otherwise known as “Pizza with a twist” revisited, on the sweet side! What can I say about it? 3 letters: OMG!

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Brioche dough:

As per the twist, in my bread machine, dough setting, mine is liquid in first:

  • 2 tbsp milk + 2 eggs
  • 225g strong bread flour, sprinkled over the liquid to cover it
  • ½ tsp salt + 1 tbsp sugar + 50g melted butter + 1½ tsp easy-blend dried yeast in separate corners

Once cycle over, I knocked it back gently onto a floured surface and divided the dough in 4 rolls, working one at a time, covering the others aside.

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This time I rolled the doughs and used a plate 20cm/ 8″ wide to cut them into neat discs, actually smaller than the pizza as not meant to be a meal onto itself!

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Make sure the chocolate spread is of a almost melting consistency to spread over each layer as you don’t want it to “move”. Layer them onto your baking sheet so you can slide it on your baking tray with ease.

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Cover with the 4th layer and centre a glass in the middle in order to make your first cuts. At that stage I put my pizza stone in the oven, preheating at 220°/ 200°fan, to warm up

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Remove the glass and using a pair of scissors, do the remaining cuts, 16 in all, then start twisting!

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Take 2 slices in each hand and twist twice, going opposite way ( right hand goes right and left hand goes left) and tuck in

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You should end up with something that looks like this:

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I baked it in the oven for 20mn the removed it from the stone and baked it on the sheet for a further 5mn

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It was a resounding success and disappeared in 10mn!

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In the end I had to save myself 2 “petals” in order to quality control the result, of course!

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Chocolate Crumble Square

I made these when the boys were on holidays. It ticked all the right boxes: chocolate, custard and crumble! And they look luscious! Not only that, they are dead easy to make!

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Ingredients:

  • Cold custard made with 200ml of milk
  • 175g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 25g cocoa powder, sifted

Topping:

  • Rub together 50g flour+40g diced butter, at room temperature
  • Stir in 15g vanilla sugar (2 sachets) + 1tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/ 160°fan/ Gas 4 and prepare a baking pan 30cm×20cm / 12″x8″
  • Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl and beat until smooth and creamy
  • Spoon into the prepared pan and level with a spatula
  • Drop small dollops of the custard over the top, swirling into the chocolate mixture
  • Scatter the topping over the top
  • Bake for 30 to 35mn and leave to cool in the pan
  • Dust with icing sugar and cut into 12 generous squares!

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