Fig and Almond Cake with Coconut-Honey Glaze

Fig birthday cake

The thing with birthday cakes is that they are always compared with the cake you made the previous year so there is a certain amount of pressure on you to create an even more fabulous cake.  This year for C’s birthday I wanted to make something that was both dramatic and exotic. I am a ‘more is more’ kind of girl, I don’t think you’ll find many pared back cake recipes on this site. I was lucky enough to find two different varieties of fresh fig. Unfortunately, the ones on my tree won’ t be ready till much later in the summer. I wanted to fit as many fresh figs as possible on to the top of the cake for that wow factor. C loved the cake; how could he not? The sponge has dried figs and marzipan, making it beautifully moist. The mascarpone filling adds just the right amount of sweetness, and the fresh figs on top of the cake are just to die for.  I found this recipe on the following site: http://hungryrabbit.com/2014/10/fig-almond-tea-cake-w-coconut-honey-glaze, but it was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen who incidentally do a great podcast which I listen to regularly.

Fig birthday cake with candle

 

Ingredients:

Fig-Almond Filling

  • 225g dried figs, stems removed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, chopped
  • 125g marzipan

Sponge

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 130ml canned coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300g, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Coconut-Honey Glaze & Assembly

  • 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 60g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6-8 fresh figs for garnish (optional)
  • Toasted flaked almonds

Mascarpone Filling

  • 200g mascarpone
  • 100g icing sugar

 

Directions      

 Filling

  • Roll the marzipan into a 2cm diameter rope, cut rope into 2cm size pieces.
  • Bring the figs, sugar and water to simmer in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and figs are very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in chopped almonds and marzipan pieces and cool until ready to use.

 

Cake

  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Grease a 20cm round spring form tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Whisk coconut milk and both extracts.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of coconut milk mixture. Mix on low until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Remove mixing bowl, add the fig mixture in chunks of various sizes. Using rubber spatula, fold until mixture is evenly distribute throughout the batter.
  • Pour batter into prepared tin and smooth top. Place cake in cold oven. Adjust oven temperature to 190C/180C fan/gas 5 and bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 65- 80 minutes.
  • Cool cake in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Cooled cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Coconut-Honey Glaze & Assembly

  • Bring coconut milk, honey and salt to a simmer over in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Turn off heat and whisk in the white chocolate until fully combined. Add the cream cheese, one tablespoon at a time and whisk until glaze is smooth and creamy. Cool for 20-30 minutes until it thickens.

Mascarpone filling

  • Mix the mascarpone and the icing sugar
  • Cut the cake into two horizontal layers and spread a layer the mascarpone filling on the first half of the cake. Place the second half of the cake on top so that the flattest side is on top and ready to be decorated.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the top of cake and let it drip over the sides. Decorate with fresh figs (if using) and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds to serve.

Fig birthday cake with candle

 

Chocolate and Raspberry Cigarello Cake

mums-birthday-cake

For my glamorous mum’s 70th birthday, I had to make a cake as stunning as her. But it also had to be a cake that my brother and his family would like even with their very conservative food tastes, so no exotic flavour combos.  It also had to be a cake that I could take on the train from London to Newcastle. Not an easy brief.  

The recipe for this cake came from Lorraine Pascale, (http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/i-cant-believe-you-made-cake.html) who also saved my life with my brother’s Malteser cake. For my mum’s cake, I incorporated raspberries into the layers as well as creme fraiche to cut through the sweetness of the chocolate butter cream which held the chocolate cigarellos in place. I bought the cigarellos and striped chocolate triangles online at http://www.chocolatetradingco.com

To decorate the top, I made the meringue kisses with freeze dried raspberries and the pale pink balls were strawberry filled truffles from Marks and Spencer. I also added extra-long birthday candles and three star shaped sparklers which set off the smoke alarm when we lit them. The cake was a huge success; mum really loved it.

mums-cake-2

 

Ingredients

200g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

140g plain flour

60g cocoa powder

pinch of salt

2 tsp baking powder

400g plain, milk or white chocolate cigarellos (about 75-80 in total) (I bought 2 boxes) 

For the buttercream

250g butter, softened

500g icing sugar

100g good dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), melted and slightly cooled

 

For the layers

1 large tub (600g) of creme fraiche

750g frozen raspberries (use fresh if you like)

For the decoration (optional)

Fresh flowers, fresh raspberries, raspberry meringue kisses, chocolate strawberry filled truffles, painted chocolate triangles

mums-cake-3

·        Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ Gas Mark 4. Line the 20cm round deep cake tin with baking paper and brush or spray with oil.

·        Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until they begin to go pale.

·        Add half the eggs and half the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two until the mixture is uniform.

·        Dollop into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

·        Meanwhile, make the buttercream.

·        Put the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk together until the mixture begins to go fluffy. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and whisk for a further 2 minutes.

·        Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin. Carefully cut the top flat with a large serrated knife, then turn the cake upside down on a 20cm cake board so that the bottom now becomes a nice flat top.

·        Split the cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a layer of creme fraiche. Then place the defrosted raspberries on top, don’t worry if they get smashed up. Spread half the buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, making it as smooth as possible.

·        Put it in the fridge to set before spreading a final layer with the remaining butter cream. This makes it easier to get a smooth, crumb-free finish.

·        Gently push the cigarellos vertically onto the sides of the cake, positioning them as straight as possible and making sure they touch the bottom.

·        Then decorate the as you like!

 

 

 

Blueberry, Lemon and Mint Drizzle Cake

Lemon, Blueberry, Mint Drizzle cake with edible flowers.JPG

 

I made this cake for the birthday of a very dear colleague at work. I wanted to make something traditional, but not boring and in my opinion, you can never go wrong with lemon drizzle, but I wanted to do a twist on it, so this recipe was perfect. The mint drizzle was totally delicious. It was originally made in a loaf tin, but to jazz it up for a birthday, I used my heritage bundt tin. The edible flowers were from my garden, but I made the mistake of decorating the cake the night before and in the morning all the flowers had shrivelled so I had to pick some more and do it again.   The original recipe is from Delicious Magazine.

http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/blueberry-lemon-and-mint-drizzle-cake/

 

Ingredients

115g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing

25g fresh mint, leaves picked

250g fresh blueberries

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon

250g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

225g caster sugar

2 large free-range eggs

120ml whole milk

25g desiccated coconut

100g granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

White icing sugar and lemon juice

Edible flowers and the tips of mint sprigs

lemon-blueberry-and-mint-drizzle-with-flowers

Directions

  • Position a shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease the heritage bundt baking tin.
  • Finely chop about a quarter of the mint leaves (to yield 1 tablespoon). Put the blueberries into a bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and the chopped mint, then set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and caster sugar together in a large mixing bowl for 5 minutes until pale and slightly fluffy. This will be a little harder than usual because of the high proportion of sugar, but it will eventually come together and become much paler in colour. Beat in the lemon zest. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of the sifted flour with the second egg. Add the milk gradually, folding in large spoonfuls of the remaining flour until the mixture is smooth, then fold in the desiccated coconut.
  • Spoon one-third of the cake mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin and scatter over one-third of the blueberries. Repeat twice more, ending with a layer of blueberries. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes away clean.
  • While the cake is cooking, make the topping. Put the rest of the mint leaves and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar into a mortar or small bowl and pound with the pestle or the end of a rolling pin until it forms a bright green paste. Stir in the remaining lemon juice (about 3-4 tablespoons) and leave to infuse. When the cake comes out of the oven, leave it to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the minty lemon juice through a clean tea strainer into a bowl, pressing out as much of the juice as you can. Stir in the remaining granulated sugar.
  • Spoon the minty lemon and sugar mixture over the cake and leave it to cool. Remove the cake from the tin, then sprinkle the top lightly with a little more sugar.
  • Mix the icing sugar and the lemon juice together, until you get a consistency that can be piped. You can always add more icing sugar or lemon to get the right balance.
  • Decorate by using a piping bag to pipe the icing sugar and lemon juice mixture down the ridges of the cake. Finish off by place the edible flowers and the tips of the mint springs in the ridges.

 

Lemon, Blueberry and Mint Drizzle.JPG

Fig and Yoghurt Cake

Fig and Yoghurt Cake (2)

My fig tree is the tree that just keeps on giving, as a result, I have an abundance of figs. I found this recipe on http://www.hungrycouplenyc.com. I’ve made yoghurt cakes before and they always make me feel that I’m being ‘healthy’. The loaf shape also helps with this fantasy, as I feel like I’m eating bread rather than cake. This cake is so moist and so fragrant it goes down a treat for afternoon tea.

Fig and Yoghurt Cake

Ingredients (Makes 8-10 servings)
2 large eggs
200g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g Greek style yoghurt
Zest of 1 lemon
240g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of ground ginger
3 fresh figs, quartered

 

       Using either a stand or hand mixer, add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and beat together until fully combined. 

       Beat in the butter, vanilla, lemon zest and yoghurt until all the ingredients are combined.

       In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon.

       Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated.

       Butter and flour a loaf tin (add baking parchment for easy removal) and pour in the batter.

       Place the quartered figs along the top of the batter and press in slightly until only the tops are showing. 

       Bake in a pre-heated oven 180°C fan/ 200°C/ Gas 6 for approximately 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

       Allow to cool and then dust with icing sugar before serving (optional). 

Plum and Almond Friands

 

IMG_0109

Friands are small French cakes which apparently are hugely popular in Australia. I get really excited when I make things which are so easy, look really impressive and taste delicious. I can’t wait to tell everyone! These cakes are divine and so quick to make, they can be on the table within the hour and eaten even faster! I’m really trying hard not to be greedy, but with such temptation, it’s very difficult! I think the plum on the top of the cake makes a great transition into autumn. It has a lovely tang in contrast to the sweetness of the cake. I also think these would make a great present, I mean who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive a box of these?

Ingredients

(From: Waitrose Summer Harvest 2015)

Makes 12

125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

50g plain flour

115g icing sugar

75g ground almonds

4 medium egg whites

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

3 large plums, stoned and cut into thick wedges

Icing sugar for dusting

IMG_0108

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ gas Mark 6.
  • Grease a 12-hole muffin tin with a little butter, then line the bases with circles of baking parchment.
  • Melt the butter.
  • Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl and add the ground almonds. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir the almond extract and melted butter into the flour mixture and mix to combine.
  • Using a large metal spoon, fold a quarter of the egg whites into the flour and butter mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remainder until it is just combined.
  • Divide the mixture into the holes in the tins. Arrange the plums on the top and bake for 15-18 minutes. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Serve lightly dusted with icing sugar.

IMG_0118