Tag Archives: cake

Love Food Hate Waste: left over Christmas Cake

12 Jan

Do you still have a house guest left over hanging around after Christmas? No…check your cake tins, I once found a remnant of forgotten Christmas cake lurking in a tin in March! It probably had so much booze in it that it would have been edible but I just couldn’t face it. That story probably means I’m a very slovenly house keeper, but since I make my own Christmas cake I’m more keen than every to use it up and not let it go to waste.

If you have thrown out any left over Christmas cake shame on you because you are missing a real treat. Warm Christmas cake with Christmas pudding ice cream. Oh yes dear reader, it may be January, chocolate rabbits and eggs may have appeared in the shops already and this may not even be a recipe but you will thank me for it!

Ingredients & Method

For the Christmas Pud ice cream I used a tub of butter scotch ice cream but vanilla would be fine; allowed it to soften and then stirred through the crumbled remains of a Christmas pudding. Re freeze, and you’re done.  Don’t worry if you haven’t got any left, serve this with any ice cream you like.

Cut a portion of Christmas cake, place in a bowl and warm it (I use the microwave for speed).

Serve with a dollop of ice cream.

I find this a particular pleasure with a drop of whisky, when all the decorations have come down, Christmas and New Year seem a long time ago, the Weight Watchers ads are on TV and things feel a bit grim. Perfect pick me up I’d say! Thrifty too if you’re feeling the pinch after the festive season.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

24 Nov

Having a mid November birthday I try to hold off doing anything Chirstmassy before it, and increasingly difficult task with Christmas sneaking in earlier and earlier, but I try. Once my birthday, and that of a very good friend even later in November are over I let myself start thinking about Christmas; I build up slowly otherwise I think I could get a bit carried away.

The first step is making a Christmas cake, a bit of a faff yes but always in my experience nicer than a bought one and while people are want to joke about turkeys lasting far to long, but a large Christmas cake soaked in enough booze will keep well into the New Year, whether you still feel like eating it then is another matter! But here is the best recipe I have found and one which has drawn the most complements for Jamaican Black Cake; a rich, fruity, boozy cake which everyone seemed to enjoy. I don’t know if this is authentic, a search of the internet shows up a variety of methods, some involving soaking fruit for a month or longer, but this recipe suits me.


113g mixed peel

113g glace cherries

227g prunes

454g raisins

grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 lime

2 cups dark rum

1 tsp vanilla essence

227g margarine or butter

227g dark brown sugar

2 tbsp caramelized brown sugar (browning sauce)

170g plain flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp salt

1tsp baking powder

4 eggs


  • 24 hours before baking finely chop the fruit, zest the lemon and lime and place in a large bowl with 1 cup of the rum and vanilla essence and leave to infuse.
  • Grease and line a 9 inch round cake tin
  • Pre heat the oven to 180°
  • In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and caramel until light and fluffy
  • In another bowl sieve the dry ingredients together
  • Beat the eggs and last cup of rum together then add to the creamed butter mixture in two halves, adding a spoon or two of the flour mixture if it looks like curdling.
  • Fold in the remaining dry ingredients and pour into the tin.
  • Level the top of the cake and bake in the centre of the oven for approx 1 ½ hrs, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the tin and store in an air tight tin, you can feed the cake with an additional shot of rum every week until it is needed.

Make no mistake this is a very rich cake, and ideally it should be made a month in advance so it can be topped up with rum and to allow the flavours to develop. However, I think you could make it quite a bit closer to the big day and still get away with it. It also ices very well, although I did over do it with the edible glitter!

elderflower and summer berry sponge

15 Jun

This was my contribution to the Clandestine Cake club gathering in Kilburn. It is an elaborate looking cake but is actually relatively easy with no difficult techniques to master, as long as your batter doesn’t curdle and you leave the oven door shut for 2/3 of the cooking time I think this recipe is pretty straight forward and looks great and tastes light, fruity and summery.

I used duck eggs in the sponge for the first time, I was at home with my parents Mum said my grandmother always bought duck eggs for baking as they are richer and give cakes more oomph (technical term). The cornflour in place of some of the normal flour is also an heirloom tip to improve the texture of the sponge. This recipe can be scaled down by remembering that a basic victoria sponge has equal weights of butter, flour and sugar.



250g caster sugar

250g unsalted butter (very soft)

4 duck eggs (or 250g weighed in shells)

225g self-raising flour

25g corn flour

12g baking powder

2 tbsp elderflower cordial

3-4 tbsp milk (or enough to make a silky batter)


2 tbsp mixed berry jam

130 ml double cream

2 tbsp of elderflower cordial (or to taste)

200g raspberries

100g small strawberries halved.


3 tbsp icing sugar

3 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries


Pre heat oven to 190 °C grease and or line two 8” cake tins.

Sift or mix together the flour, cornflour and baking powder.

With a hand mixer or plenty of elbow grease cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Then mix in half the eggs and flour, cornflour , once this has combined add the other the rest and mix again until it forms a stiff ish batter.

This method should stop it curdling but if it looks as thought it is, add a little more flour and mix that in. Add the elderflower cordial and milk, the amount needed may vary but the batter should be loose and silky looking. Divide between the two cake tins and bake, it should take approximately 30 minutes at 190 °C but as my oven is temperamental it took longer and I had to cover the top of the cakes to stop them colouring too much, but you will know when they are done when the start to pull away from the sides of the tin and a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out when cool enough to handle and cool full on wire racks.

When cool spread jam over one of the sponges. Whisk together the elderflower cordial and cream until stiff and spread on top of the jam. Next layer on the fruit, neatly if you like or randomly, it doesn’t really matter. Then place the second sponge on top. To make the top nice and pink ( and cover up any imperfections you might want to hide, push the icing sugar and dried raspberries through a sieve over the top layer. Voila.

clandestine cakes

13 Jun

I must confess, Come Dine With Me is a guilty pleasure of mine but I sometimes find myself shouting at the TV when someone cooks something they have never tried before for an audience of people, what could possibly go wrong there? Well that’s more or less what I did this weekend when I made my contribution for the Clandestine Cake Club in Kilburn. Luckily it worked and it took its place alongside about 13 others with the theme “Cake Porn” (beautiful cakes).

a few beautiful cakes

I didn’t know quite what to expect, but once I got over the shock of being greeted at the door by Lynn the host and a lady from Radio 4 wielding a microphone ( I didn’t swear my Mum would be so proud) I was given a lovely cup of tea and was immersed in cakey conversations. Whilst the Clandestine Cake Club is non competitive it was nice to get some tips and feedback from other keen bakers as we set about demolishing the cakes.


demolition job

Ms Marmite Lovers Rainbow Cake

We tried to sample as many creations as possible but I didn’t get anywhere near the record of 11 slices.  Invaded the home of Ms Marmite Lover who valiantly tasted each cake from a sumptuous cheese cake to a lovely light meringue and raspberry affair.

It was interesting to discuss the reasons for the resurgence in home baking; from the Nigella effect to finding comfort in a recession to baking as a feminist activity. We also ate cake! Loads of it! All gorgeous and lovingly made and at home time people divided up the leftovers to sample at home. I loved the chocolate cake with salted caramel filling, but didn’t get to try as many as I would have like so I’m sure I missed out on some crackers! Cake Clubs are springing up all over and Lynn is an a great ambassador for the appreciation of the sometimes overlooked cake, and an enthusiastic supported of people who want to start-up their own club. If you are interested in running one get in touch, or keep your eyes peeled for one coming to a town near you!

Macaron Madness

25 Sep

Never one to dismiss a foodie band waggon before at least giving it a try, a little while ago I had a go at making macarons . Intricate little beasties and when I made them set to replace cup cakes as the trendy cake of choice.

This ladies heared and gents is the result of my first attempt and given the stories I had  about how difficult they are too make I was really impressed. Not very refined I grant you but still very yummy.

That said I’m not sure I’ll be making them again in a hurry as they are quite a faff. This is a pretty good recipe and I missed out things, like most of the first stage and aging the egg whites over night and they still worked for me. I also just filled them with nutella because after the mixing and tense cooking process I couldn’t be bothered making my own. There are lots of exciting colour and flavour combinations out there and maybe I’ll have another go at some point.

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