Chocolate and Mulled Cider Cake

As soon as I spotted this recipe for chocolate and mulled cider cake by Will Torrent in the December issue of Jamie Magazine, I knew I was going to have to give it a try. It would make a great alternative to christmas pudding and has the wow factor in both looks and taste. It keeps well for several days in an air tight container. Most supermarkets sell mulled cider or make your own by heating apple cider in a saucepan with a mulling spice sachet or star anise, cloves, a cinnamon stick and a squeeze of orange.

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Caraway Seed Cake

Winter is drawing in and I’m feeling less and less like going out at the weekends. There is something so comforting about tucking yourself up at home away from the elements and this caraway seed cake by Nigella is perfect for cold winter weekends with a cup of tea or an indulgent hot chocolate. The ground almonds make it very moist and buttery and it will keep wrapped in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Nigella Caraway Seed Cake

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Christmas Cake

I think it must have been in about 2009 that I started making my own christmas cakes. I tried a few different recipes in the early years but since giving Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake recipe a go I haven’t looked at another recipe.

I have tinkered with the quantity of some of the ingredients over the years and have to disagree with Delia’s insistence on not checking the cake unit at least 4 hours has passed, mine is always cooked at around 3hrs 50 so I feel her timings are vastly overstated. Hopefully below you will find the recipe for a dark and fruity Christmas cake laced with brandy, rum or whisky as you see fit.

I suggest placing a roasting tin of boiling water below the shelf on the bottom of the oven right before baking the cake as the steam helps to make a moister cake. I also place a baking tray on the rack above the cake as this further protects the top from burning.

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Brandy Soaked Fruit

Is it too soon to mention the C word?…….I hope not! I try to make my Christmas cake by mid October and have been using Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake recipe for some years now having made a few tweaks to suit my own tastes. I definitely stand on the Mary Berry side where alcohol in cakes/desserts is concerned and frankly more is more. Delia suggests a quite stingy 45ml brandy while Mary goes for 150ml so I’m edging up towards Mary’s measure!

To get started I like to soak the fruit for 5-7 days before baking the cake. Delia only soaks hers overnight though so if you are short on time, overnight is fine. And some cooks swear by a month or more soaking so start it whenever you have the time. For readers in the UK, Asda currently have 500g bags of dried fruit on 3 for 2 promotion so thats my cue to get soaking fruit.

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Maple and Pecan Layer Cake

It was my birthday last week and like all passionate sad bakers, I made myself a cake. This Hummingbird Bakery Maple and Pecan Layer Cake recipe had been in the ‘to try’ pile since late last year and so I thought it was time to test it out. As always with Hummingbird recipes, I found the icing to be too sweet for me although everyone else thought it was great!

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Carrot Cake Tray Bake

My carrot cake is quite legendary but I have to be honest…..I have barely strayed from the original recipe. There are some recipes that you find and they are so good you daren’t change them. I have tweaked this carrot cake from BBC Good Food as much as I dare for fear of detracting from its amazingness. I have also added a not too sweet cream cheese icing but you can stick to the original glace icing if you prefer, which also keeps the cake dairy free. I doubled the original recipe to fit a 20x30cm tray bake tin. Halve the following if you want to make an 8″ round cake and bake for 30-45 minutes. This cake keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days and improves after a day or so if it lasts that long! Bring to room temperature before serving.

Carrot Cake

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Mojito Cupcakes

Finally the sun is shining and it was my friend Helen’s birthday last week so that could mean only one thing….cocktail inspired cupcakes!

I visited Cuba two years ago and this idea was born whilst chatting to our tour guide Leoel. He came from a family of bakers and he was telling me about Cuban tradition of a massive tray bake sponge cake soaked in sugar syrup and iced to protect it from drying out the harsh sun as the bakers carried the trays on their shoulders selling squares of cake to passers-by on scraps of cardboard.

I asked him if there was a mojito flavoured cake and he said no. We sat in the sun and dreamt up with a light vanilla sponge soaked in a mojito reduction syrup topped with creamy rum and lime icing. I came back, researched and tested recipes and came up with this. A love child of a few mojito cake recipes which together fit the brief we set in Cuba. I like to think Leoel’s father is now selling a mojito cake similar to this.

You can also use a 20x30cm tray bake tin rather than individual cupcakes which I find feeds a BBQ crowd well. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

Mojito Cupcakes

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