Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spiced sweet potato cake with Muscovado frosting

What's the best way to make sure you eat your 5-a-day? Stick them in a cake! Hidden vegetable cakes are big this year so whether you're tucking bright pink beetroot into a red velvet cake, grating courgettes into a carrot cake, adding mashed potato to chocolate cake (this is apparently a thing) or opting for sweet potato like my recipe below, the results are always deliciously moist and healthy (well, sort of!). 

This is hands-down one of the most delicious cakes I've ever made. It's gently spiced, buttery, light, not too sweet and the sweet potato gives it a lovely moist texture. You could swop out the sweet potato with pumpkin or mashed butternut - I think that would be equally delish. 

The brown sugar frosting is something a little different, using Muscovado sugar, which is caramelly and rich, imparts a crazy-good molasses flavour.  

It's quite a looker this cake, and I wanted it sky-high with four layers for these photos but have adjusted the recipe below to make it three, as four is just impractical and results in HUGE slices of cake (now, depending on what kind of person you are, you may agree or disagree with this statement!). But I want to share a little secret when it comes to assembling layer cakes; freeze the cake layers. Wrap each cake in wax paper and cling wrap then freeze the night before. Make sure your frosting is at room temperature and then go about assembling your cake using the frozen layers. The cake will be rigid so it will be easy to spread (no crumbs!), the layers won't break and as you work, the frosting will set and you won't be left with a leaning tower of Pisa. Once you're done, allow the cake to return to room temperature before cutting and serving. Voila! You're welcome.

Spiced carrot and sweet potato cake with brown sugar frosting
Serves 10-12

210g butter, softened
270g Demerara sugar
3 eggs
180ml cooked and mashed sweet potato
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour, sifted
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
120g finely grated carrots, squeezed well
1/2 cup sultanas (optional)
75g flaked almonds

200g butter, softened
2-3 tbsp boiling hot water
75g Muscovado sugar
300g icing sugar, sifted
250g smooth full fat cream cheese

Toasted flaked almonds, to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line 3 x 20cm sandwich cake tins.
Cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each addition.
Beat in the sweet potato and vanilla.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices and stir into the cake batter.
Stir in the carrots, sultanas and flaked almonds then divide between the 3 tins and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes, comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool, upside down, completely then remove from the tin.
For the frosting, cream the butter until light and fluffy.
Pour the boiling water over the muscovado sugar to dissolve (pop in the microwave for a few seconds if needed) then allow to cool.
Add the cooled muscovado syrup to the butter with the icing sugar and beat until combined. Mix in the cream cheese.
Sandwich the cakes together with the frosting, leaving enough to cover the top.

Decorate with nuts, if desired.

TIP This cake batter would make fantastic cupcakes! Just fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake until golden. Then top with the frosting. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

5-Ingredient Chocolate Raspberry Macaroon Cake (Gluten-free)

Be honest, I had you at chocolate right?. Well that’s understandable, because without chocolate there would be darkness and chaos in the world (okay we don't know that for sure but let's just put it up to trust - and I'd trust a chocolate bar any day). But back to the 'cake', it's got just 5 main ingredients - how cool is that? And it's gluten-free! Even more brownie points earned!

Layers of coconut macaroon, whipped chocolate and raspberries make this recipe an absolute hit and super impressive with so little effort it's actually embarrassing.  But don't worry, I won't tell if you don't! Try and use the best quality chocolate you can get your paws on, the high cocoa content gives the whipped ganache a bittersweet richness, combined with the sweet meringue and zing of the fresh raspberries - it’s just plain awesome. 

Chocolate raspberry macaroon cake
Recipe and images created for
(Serves 6-8)

1 cup cream
300g dark chocolate, chopped
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 2/3 cups desiccated coconut

To decorate:
Cocoa, for dusting
200g fresh raspberries (or other fresh fruit), to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 20 x 20cm baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Bring the cream to a boil, remove from the heat and add the chocolate chunks. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then stir until smooth. Refrigerate until set then whip until fluffy and stiff.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1cm of water to a simmer. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites in a glass bowl set over the simmering water until soft peak stage. Gradually beat in the sugar until combined. Remove from the heat and beat at high speed until cool. 

Fold in the coconut gently until combined. Spread the mixture into the lined baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool slightly, and then turn the macaroon cake onto a clean surface. Trim the edges and cut the cake into two rectangles.

Sandwich the layers together with the whipped chocolate mixture, finishing with a layer of chocolate and finally a dusting of cocoa and a sprinkling of raspberries.

TIP This cake is even better refrigerated overnight and enjoyed the next day. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hot Cross Bun Spiced cake with Easter eggs

Easter is without a doubt my favourite time of year and if you know even just one thing about me, this is hardly a surprise, what with my chocolate infatuation and all. But when I really think about Easter, the first memory that comes to mind is a warm, toasted hot cross bun drenched in melted butter and served with sweet milky tea. Heaven. One of life's little joys for me, is depriving myself of the spiced, kissed buns all year around (by the way, since when did it become a thing that shops sell them all the time?!) so that when Easter comes around, it really is a special treat.  But, if unlike me, you haven't paced yourself this year and have eaten way too many of the buns by now, this cake is the solution to hot cross bun gluttony. It's a 'throw everything in a bowl and mix' kind of cake recipe with a hint of those lovely Eastery spices. And let's not forget to add the glorious king of all confectionary, speckled eggs. I will not bore you with a soliloquy on my infatuation, nay, deep love, for speckled eggs, as I could go on forever, but I will say that the eggs make this cake speggtacular (too much?!). But just trust me on this one. 
Serve this cake for tea, and have a very happy chocolate-fuelled Easter! 

Hot cross bun spiced cake with speckled eggs
Makes 1 cake

3 cups self-raising flour
1 cup cake flour
2 cups castor sugar
2t mixed spice
2t ground cinnamon
300g butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups milk
6 eggs, at room temperature
1t vanilla extract

250g butter
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2T milk
1t vanilla extract

Mini colourful Easter eggs, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 150C and grease a 25cm ring cake tin. Place the flours, sugars, spices, butter, milk, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and beat on low speed until just combined. Increase speed to high and beat for 1-2 minutes or until thick and light. Spoon into the cake tin and bake until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack. Make the icing by beating the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the icing sugar, milk and vanilla until creamy. Frost the cake with the butter cream and decorate with the eggs. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pumpkin and vanilla bean cheesecake & Almond puff pastry tart

 This post is a little different from my usual, not only does it contain 2 fabulous recipes: a pumpkin vanilla bean cheesecake and a ridiculously light and puffy almond puff pastry tart (or if you're feeling fancy, it's called Galette des Rois) but I'm also going to be getting a little tech-savvy (wow, I sound a bit like my grandmother there!)

It took me a while to catch on, but I've developed a bit of an app addiction. Both my tablet and phone are littered with cooking and baking apps and there seems to be one for everything! From an app that can tell you if the fish you're eating is endangered or not (WWF SASSI), an extremely versatile baking converter (QuickBake Converter), one that grabs recipes off your favourite blogs and saves them as recipe cards (ChefTap) to an app that transforms your Instragrams and tweets of restaurant meals into food for disadvantaged and hungry children (Feedie). 

But my absolute favourite at the moment has got to be the Food and Home Entertaining magazine app which has hands-down got to be the most beautiful app on my homepage. Not only is it pretty but it's also pretty useful with videos and a cook mode which goes through the recipe step-by-step so you can follow it on your tablet while you bake. 

I tried the pumpkin and vanilla cheesecake recipe because the spiced pumpkin reminded me so much of how my grandmother used to prepare her pumpkin fritters. This cheesecake was lovely and dense and I'll definitely be adding it to my recipe collection.  

KATE'S TIP:  I served mine with a butterscotch sauce and toasted almonds (having a sweet tooth and all).

The puff pastry tart is also so yummy and quite impressive! So if you're baking this long weekend (that's a silly thing to say isn't it? Of course you are!) give either of them a try!

For the recipes for these beautiful bakes download the app here for free.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mini hot cross bun doughnuts

Deep-fried hot cross buns, people. Easter treats just don't get any better than this! Wait, maybe they do, 'cos I have some fabulous Easter recipes coming up in the next week so hang onto your sweet tooth! 

Sometimes people ask me how I think of deep-frying a hot cross bun. And the answer is that I dream about food at night. Not in that 'swimming in melted chocolate' kind of way (although isn't that what we'd all like!) but more in a 'wake up in the middle of the night with a recipe idea' kind of way. Which makes me pretty food-obsessed but it's where I get my best ideas. Like deep-frying hot cross buns, or making millionaire shortbread into a cake or giving sweetie pies a red velvet twist. Let's be honest, it's a little weird (or a lot weird, depending on your weird-o-meter), but we all have our quirks! Mine just happens to result in yummy things!

Photograph by Gunther Schubert of Vorsprung Studio

Mini hot cross bun doughnuts
Makes 24

60g butter or margarine
420g cake flour
1 tsp salt
50ml sugar
1 tsp mixed spices
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed peel (optional)
10g Instant dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
200ml warm water
½ cup raisins (or chocolate chips)

¼ cup flour
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp water

Oil, for deep-frying
Castor sugar, to dust

Rub the butter into the flour and mix in salt, sugar, spices and mixed peel, if using. Add the yeast and mix. Beat the egg and warm water together and add to the dough. Mix to form a soft dough then knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Divide into 24 pieces and roll into balls. Place on a lightly floured surface, cover and allow to rise until doubled in size. Mix the flour, oil and water together and place in a piping bag. Pipe crosses onto the buns. Heat a large pot of oil to 180C and fry the doughnuts, in batches until golden and puffed. Remove from oil and immediately dust in castor sugar.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Chocolate peanut butter Milo cake

I think we all have a guilty food pleasure; whether it's putting odd things on toast or eating breakfast foods for dinner. Mine is sitting with a tin on my lap shovelling spoonfuls of Milo straight from the can into my mouth. Odd but oh so gooood. 

Milo is just heaven for me. That malty, milky flavour gets me every time. So as one does, I've created an ode to this drink-that-I-eat, and stuck it in a chocolate cake. Only The Best Chocolate Cake (recipe courtesy of the fabulous Alida Ryder). 
Did I mention it has peanut butter in it too? And espresso? It's like when the cake gods were handing out decadence, this cake stood in line twice. And then again. 

I must say that I did contemplate topping this cake with those crunchy malty whispers things, but then wondered if the poor cake would explode from chocolate sexiness... wait, who am I kidding? That would've been friggin' amazing! Now, go and make this cake so you can do what I was too weak to do!

Chocolate milo peanut butter cake
Based on Alida Ryder's recipe (
Serves 10-12 (or just one Kate)

2 cups white sugar
450ml cake flour
200ml cocoa
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot espresso
¼ cup Milo powder
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
115g butter, melted

½ cup smooth peanut butter
115g butter, softened
2 ½ cups icing sugar
100ml cocoa powder
100ml Milo powder, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml cream

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Prepare 2 springform tins (24cm each). Mix all the dry ingredients together. Whisk the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and add to dry ingredients. Combine coffee, Milo, peanut butter and butter and add to the mixture. Mix well. Divide between the cake tins and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting and allow to cool completely.
For the icing, cream the peanut butter and butter until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat well. Ice the cake and decorate with Milo powder and chocolate curls, if desired.