Florence’s Food: Raspberry and Amaretti Crunch Cake

Becky is here today with a fab cake recipe I asked her to share after she brought it round to me when Bea arrived. Along with being delicious it’s also quite sophisticated, yet she reliably informs me, easy to make. Perfect to impress friends when time is short and seasonal for these last days of summer…

Florence Finds, Michelle Kelly, Pocketful of Dreams

I bookmarked this recipe for raspberry amaretti crunch cake just before I became a Mum after enjoying a slice in a cafe on one of my many maternity leave cake dates. I searched online for a recipe and this BBC Good Food one popped up first. What I love the most about using any Good Food recipe is how heavily they are rated. As time is so precious, I’m no longer prepared to waste it cooking or baking something that could turn out to be a flop. I love the fact that you can search only for 5 star rated recipes and I find the comments section underneath each recipe is a great help for tips and suggestions.

With this recipe, for example, there were a lot of comments suggesting that an extra egg was needed, as well as a lot longer in the oven. So, first attempt, I added an extra egg and just patiently kept checking the cake until my skewer came out clean. It’s a very simple, all in one mix which takes very little effort to prepare but tastes great.

A week after baking this for Rebecca to celebrate Bea’s arrival, we collected some wild raspberries on a family dog walk so made the cake again using half the quantities and baked it in a loaf tin. It turned out just as good.

Love,
Becky

PS Read more from Becky here

Peach Upside Down cake

I’m currently obsessed with peaches and was planning on making a peach dessert of sorts when I found myself in need of a quick cake to take to a friend’s house. It turned out so well that I thought those of you who perhaps don’t bake because you don’t have time or find it difficult, might try this peach upside down cake at home.

I used a simple sponge recipe that I also use to make Victoria Sandwich cakes:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 oz butter
  • 6oz of self raising flour
  • 6oz of caster sugar

Beat the butter and sugar together, then mix in the beaten eggs and the flour and you’re done.

For the peach top, I browned the peaches in some butter and sugar to give them some colour, otherwise the cake top can look a little anaemic.

Arrange the peaches in a pretty pattern on the bottom of your greased cake tin and pour the cake mix on top then bake for 40-50 minutes at 180 degrees, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Turn the tin upside down and remove the cake so the peaches are now on top. I used a sprung tin with a removable base, which comes in handy when gently peeling the cake off the peaches. Sprinkle with some granulated sugar whilst warm and serve warm with cream or ice cream, or cold with tea and gossip :)

Of course, you can do it with any fruit – when I was a child I used tinned pineapples, or you could use apples in autumn or other berries for a more pudding-y dessert. Right now, peaches are so delicious though, I think they’re perfect for this.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Make something Naughty [to Eat]

Today is your reward for all the amazing things you have done this January! Tomorrow we’ll be reflecting on that, but first of all today, I have a challenge for you to test your baking skills and make you feel like an accomplished domestic goddess in the kitchen. Every January I bake a cake of Pete’s choice from any of our recipe books for his birthday, so it’s kind of a tradition to attempt something new and impressive… I’m so glad he didn’t see this before making this year’s choice ;)

Thank you so much to Asma from Sugared Saffron for sending in this stunning creation – I think it would be a seriously impressive gift or centrepiece on a dessert table or for afternoon tea. Do let her know in the comments box if you have any questions!

Tips:

  • Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and all spice for an extra wintery flavour
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the caramel for a Salted Caramel layer
  • To save time, bake the cake the day before. The pear means it’s extra moist so just make sure you’ve wrapped it in cling film and leave it at room temperature.

Ingredients for the Pear and Vanilla bean cake: 
170g Unsalted butter (room temp)
170g Caster sugar
1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract or the seeds of half a vanilla bean
3 Large eggs
170g Self raising flour
6 firm pears, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes.
1/2 a firm pear.

For the caramel layer:
100g caster sugar
Water
100ml double cream
1 tablespoon of butter

Finishing touches:
75ml Chantilly cream. That’s just whipped cream, flavoured with vanilla and sweetened with a teaspoon of icing sugar.
Spun sugar

Cake Method

  • Prepare a 7″ baking tin by greasing and lining with baking paper. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C
  • Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Add the eggs to the creamed mixture one at a time, make sure they are completely combined before adding the next. If the mixture is curdling, add a tablespoon of the measured flour to it.
  • Mix in the flour.
  • Fold in the chopped pears until they are evenly distributed in the mixture.
  • Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. This part depends very much on your oven so check after 30 minutes but pressing the cake and testing with a toothpick. If it comes out clean and the cake springs back after being pressed, then it’s done.
 
Caramel sauce

  • In a heavy pan (not non-stick) place the sugar and pour over enough water to just cover the sugar. Heat on a medium-high heat and wait until the mixture dissolves and becomes amber at the edges.
  • Swirl the pan and keep on the heat until the amber colour is uniform, this will only take a few seconds so be quick.
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the cream, mix until it’s combined nicely.
  • Return the pan to the heat for a couple more minutes until the caramel thickens and changes colour.
  • Remove from the heat and add the butter. Let it cool down for a minute and pour over the top of the cake.
  • Whilst the caramel is setting, take your half pear and place in a hot non-stick frying pan to caramelise at the edges and surface.
  • Once the caramel is set and the pear is cooled, dollop on some of the Chantilly cream.
  • Add the spun sugar and pear at the very last minute before serving.


Recipe and Photography courtesy of Asma Hassan, (Baking Ninja) Sugared Saffron

Friday Food: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

You can all breathe a sigh of relief! It’s the end of January and so I thought we all deserved (at least a picture of) a big piece of chocolate cake!

I also decided to post this particular recipe as it’s one of the cakes I’ve made for the cake table this evening at Pete’s birthday party, at his request. We have a tradition now of him leafing through the The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbookand choosing his own cake. This one is pretty spectacular and although I would have liked mine to turn out taller, it’s still very impressive. A must for chocolate fanatics or anyone just wishing to celebrate the end of January! ;)


Image Credit: Zoe Bakes.

Ingredients:
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
260g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
170g plain flour
160 ml whole milk

For the chocolate custard:
500g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
85g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 x 20cm cake tins, base-lined with greaseproof paper

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius (Gas 3)

2. Put the butter and sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or a handheld electric whisk)
and cream until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl
with a rubber spatula after each addition.
Turn the mixer down down to slow speed and beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder,
baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.
Add half the flour, then all the milk, and finish with the remaining flour.
Mix well until everything is well combined.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins.
Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins
before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

4. For the chocolate custard: Put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder and 600ml of water
into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

5. Mix in the cornflour with 120ml of water, then whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan.
Bring back to boil , whisking constantly.
Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until very firm.

6. When the cakes are cold, using a serrated knife, slice a thin layer off one of the cakes.
Put this layer into a food processor and process to make fine crumbs.
Put one cake on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the chocolate custard over it with a palette knife.
Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the custard over it.
Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides.
Cover with the cake crumbs and chill for about 2 hours.

How much do you just want to shove your face in that?

Birthdays are the best :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Festive Friday Food – Rachel’s Plum and Orange cake

In part due to the funeral I’ve been at today, and in part due to lack of a wi-fi password at home(!) today’s Festive frock is somewhat waylaid… Please pardon the interruption to normal service and pop back tomorrow instead for a festive message. Xo

This morning festive Friday Food is brought to you by Rachel. When not found reading, Rachel is often baking and I was delighted to receive her recommendation which thoughtfully noted the contrast between the clean, fresh tastes in this cake and the majority of Christmas foods. It’s a welcome alternative over the Christmas period. I know I’m going to be trying it out. Thanks Rachel!


Image Credit: Let her Bake Cake

Plum and Orange Cake from River Cafe Cookbook Made Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers.

Plum filling:
500 g ripe plums
50 g caster sugar
juice and zest of one orange
1 vanilla pod

Cake:
150 g unsalted butter
150 g caster sugar
2 eggs
85 g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100 g almonds, finely ground

Almond topping:
30 g unsalted butter
25 g brown sugar
zest of one orange
50 g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas 4

  • Halve and stone the plums and put in an ovenproof dish with the sugar, the orange juice and rind. Add the split vanilla pod and bake for 20 minutes. Cool. Scrape in the vanilla seeds.
  • Grease a 25cm round spring-form tin, lined with parchment paper, with extra butter.
  • Soften the butter and beat with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one. Fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds.
  • Pour into the tin [it will be a thin layer] and push the plums and their juices into and over the cake. [I put a baking tray underneath in case any juices escaped.] Bake in the oven for half an hour.
  • For the topping, finely grate the orange rind. Melt the butter and stir in the sugar, zest and flaked almonds. Spread this over the half-baked cake, lower the heat to 160C / Gas 3 and bake for a further 20 minutes. Cool the cake in the tin.


Image Credit: Let her Bake Cake

It really is easy. I have a slow gas oven and these timings are good for me so adjust as your oven. Also don’t put the topping in too early as otherwise it will all sink in – it’s still delicious but doesn’t look so lovely. This cake will last for a good few days – so easy to make in advance and then keep nibbling on any leftovers.

Yum!

Just Festive Frock to go before home time readers and the holidays beginning :)

Happy Festive Friday,

Rebecca
xo

Friday Food – Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness cake

This morning, I am shamelessly beginning the Friday Christmas Food series… as Christmas is so much about food, there may be a couple of extra food posts coming your way between now and Christmas, and I really want you guys to get involved. If you have perhaps the perfect cranberry sauce, the best truffles, Christmas pudding, your gran’s best roasts, even a Christmas cocktail or ways to use up the turkey after the big day, please please do send them in – I can supply images, we just need you guys to share the wealth of knowledge in the Florence Finds community! :) Send them to hello@florencefinds.com and mark the subject box with Friday Food.

This week’s Friday Food comes to you courtesy of Bex from the The Olive Dragonfly who road tested a new Nigella recipe and deemed it worthy of sharing… you won’t be disappointed by this one!

Hi Florence Findettes!  Bex here with my usual excessive use of exclamation marks from the comments!  (Sorry, it’s how I actually speak, I’m very over-excitable in real life too!  Feel free to edit them out Rebecca!) and I am super excited that December is finally here and hope to tantalise your taste buds with this yummy Nigella Lawson recipe for my ultimate winter comfort food – cake!

So here is the most amazingly Chocolatey Guinnessy cake in the world, Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake.  Hubby says it’s the best cake I’ve ever made.  It was super moist and soft and bouncy and delicious.  The major bonus for me was the icing, my all time favourite – cream cheese!  I have made it before for Red Velvet cupcakes but the twist here is adding double cream and Oh My God, it makes it even more yummy!  I did find the icing quantity a tad too much (which I often do with cake recipes) even though I love it, so I just stored a couple of tablespoons of it in the fridge – leading to inevitable eating with a spoon later, you may just want to adjust the quantity you make instead and save the extra added inches to the waistline!


Image credit: DesignSponge.com

Ingredients:

    • 250ml Guinness
    • 250g unsalted butter
    • 75g cocoa
    • 400g caster sugar
    • 1 x 142ml pot sour cream
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
    • 275g plain flour
    • 2 1/2teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
    • 300g Philadelphia cream cheese

 Method:

  • 125ml double or whipping cream
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, and butter and line a 23cm springform tin.
  • Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter – in spoons or slices – and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
  • Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
  • When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsieved icing sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.
  • Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.


Image credit: Bex at www.olivedragonfly.blogspot.com for Florence Finds

I made it exactly as stated (I used the food processor technique for the icing, so much quicker, easier AND I didn’t end up covered in icing sugar like usual!), it needed 55 minutes in my oven and was cooked perfectly.  The edge was slightly crispy which I love but the whole cake was moist – not dry at the edges like some cakes I’ve baked before!

It went down a treat at work and hubby was popular too since he took a chunk in to theatre with him for the nurses.  I am actually making another one today (Thursday) to take down south with us to see my brother and the in-laws this weekend!  What can I say, I love compliments!  ;)

Bex

x

Find more of Bex at www.olivedragonfly.blogspot.com

 

Nigella’s Courgette Cake

So, my allotment has been growing out of control lately and I’m desperately trying to use or gift all the produce – it really does all come at once!

One of the main things I’m having trouble with is courgettes – once my absolute favourite vegetable I’m now more than a little tired of them in their steamed, ribboned, or stir-fried form so I’m looking for new ways to use them up!

A friend suggested that I make a courgette cake, which I had already heard of so I decided to seek out and road test a new recipe. None amongst my usual cookery book collection meant I ended up on Google which lead me to Organikal and a re-posting of Nigella’s Courgette Cake.

Et Voila!

As for the review… it was seriously good. I’m a big fan of carrot cake so the cream cheese frosting went down really well, but it was also a whole lot easier to make than carrot cake – less faffing with ingredients. And the end result was a much lighter cake – more suited to summer and incredibly moist. Dare I say it – it also didn’t appear to be as sinful as the usual Nigella Lawson style.

I also found this trio of ideas from Nigel Slater in The Guardian Archives including one cake.

What are you waiting for? Go try it out and let me know how you got on!!

Love,
Rebecca.
xo