Fairy Cakes

Fairy Cakes

 

These dainty little fairy cakes are very easy to make. The light sponge and delicate flavoured buttercream make them enjoyable to be eaten with your favourite cuppa.

 

Fairy Cakes
Prepares: 9 or 12 cakes
 
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15–18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 140g (5 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (1 cup)
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

  • For the filling
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 170g (6 oz) icing/powdered sugar (1½ cups)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • icing/powdered sugar to dust

  • Equipment
  • 12-cup bun or muffin tin lined with 9 or 12 paper baking cases. (The standard size baking cases are smaller in the U.K. and so the mixture will be enough to make 12. Being larger in North America, they will only make 9.)


  1. Method
  2. For the sponge
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  4. Sift the flour into a bowl and put to one side.

  5. Lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a small bowl using a balloon whisk. Again, put to one side.

  6. Now cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy using a free-standing mixer or hand-held electric mixer.

  7. Next, gradually beat in the eggs and 2 tablespoons of the flour.

  8. Fold in the remaining flour adding the milk to make a soft consistency.

  9. Spoon into the baking cases, filling them two-thirds full.

  10. Bake for 15–18 minutes until the top of the cakes spring back when lightly touched with the tip of the finger.

  11. Leave for one minute and then remove the cakes to a cooling rack to become cold.

  12. For the buttercream filling
  13. Beat the butter until it is really soft.

  14. Slowly add half the icing/powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Then beat in the remaining sugar along with the vanilla extract until soft and creamy.

  15. To finish
  16. Cut a cone from the centre of each cake using a small pointed knife held at angle. Cut each cone in half to create two wings.

  17. Next, spoon a generous portion of buttercream into each hole and carefully place each pair of ‘wings’ on top with the cut edges facing down into the buttercream.

  18. Dust with icing/powdered sugar.

 

Amazing Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes

Amazing Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes

 

These little cakes are an adaptation of ones made on the Great British Bake-off. Coffee cupcakes with chopped walnuts have a coffee buttercream filling, chopped walnuts round the sides and a swirl of buttercream on the top. They really are delicious and, although each step takes a bit of time, they are not difficult and well worth the effort.

 

Amazing Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes
Prepares: 16 cupcakes
 
  • Preparation time: 50 minutes
  • Cooking time: 18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the cakes
  • 170g (6 oz) butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 170g (6 oz) light muscovado sugar/light brown sugar (¾ cup + 1½ tbsp)
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 170g (6 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted (1cup + 3 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp coffee extract
  • 85g (3 oz) chopped walnuts (⅔ cup)

  • For the icing and decoration
  • 565g (1¼ lb) icing/powdered sugar (5 cups)
  • 200g (7 oz) butter, softened (¾ cup + 2 tbsp, or 1¾ sticks)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1½ tbsp coffee extract
  • 170g (6 oz) walnuts, finely chopped (1⅓ cups)

  • Equipment
  • 2 × 12 hole bun/muffin trays
  • a piping bag fitted with a 2D star nozzle (the size used to swirl icing on the top of cupcakes)


  1. Method
  2. For the cakes
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  4. Grease 16 of the bun/muffin holes. Base line them with parchment paper or just cut out the bottom of cupcake liners which is easier. (Don’t use the whole cupcake liner as you want the sides of the cakes to remain flat and quite firm.)

  5. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Then beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour with each egg. Next mix in the coffee extract. Now fold in the remaining flour and baking powder. Alternatively add all the ingredients together in a food mixer and beat until well combined.

  6. Finally gently fold in the nuts.

  7. Divide the mixture evenly between the 16 prepared bun/muffin holes and then pop in the oven for about 18 minutes until the top of the sponge springs back when lightly pressed with the tip of the forefinger.

  8. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes for the cakes to become cool enough to handle. Take a small palette knife and run round the outside of the cakes to make sure they are free from the sides of the bun/muffin holes. Then carefully lift them out, peeling off the liners, and leave on a cooling rack to become cold.

  9. For the icing and decoration
  10. While the cakes are cooling the icing can be prepared.

  11. Put the butter into a large bowl and then mix in half the sifted icing/powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until creamy. Then beat in the remaining icing/powdered sugar. Add in the milk and coffee extract and beat until smooth and creamy.

  12. Once the sponges have become cold, cut them in half horizontally. Do this very carefully as the sponges will be very light in texture. Using a little less than a quarter of the buttercream, spread a layer over the bottom half of each cake and then sandwich them back together again.

  13. Now spread a very thin layer of the buttercream around the sides of each cake. Again this needs to be done very gently, being careful not to put pressure on the top and bottom of the cakes as you do it, or they become squashed.

  14. Now roll the sides of each cake in the chopped nuts until thickly coated.

  15. Finally, fill the icing bag, fitted with the star nozzle, with the remaining buttercream and swirl the icing over the top of each cake.

 

The Ultimate Carrot Cake

The Ultimate Carrot Cake

 

The Ultimate Carrot Cake, so-called because it is full of so many goodies. Carrots, bananas, and walnuts all mixed into this delicious cake mixture. Then topped with a creamy cheese icing and sprinkled with nuts.

 

The Ultimate Carrot Cake
Prepares: 12 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the cake
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 170g (6 oz) light muscovado sugar/soft brown sugar (¾ cup)
  • 170g (6 oz) plain flour/cake and pasty flour (1½ cups)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) oil (peanut or sunflower) (⅔ cup)
  • 200g (7 oz) walnut halves (1¾ cups)
  • 170g (6 oz) carrots, grated (3 medium, or 1 cup grated)
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

  • For the icing
  • 85g (3 oz) cream cheese (⅜ cup, or 3 tbsp)
  • 85g (3 oz) butter, softened (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
  • 170g (6 oz) icing/powdered sugar (1½ cups)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Equipment
  • 20cm (8 inch) diameter cake tin with removable base, greased


  1. Method
  2. For the cake
  3. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) gas 3.

  4. Set aside 28g (1 oz) (¼ cup) of the walnuts for the decoration and then chop the the rest into quarters.

  5. Beat the eggs and the sugar together in a large bowl until thick.

  6. Sift in the flour, baking powder, soda and salt and fold in gently.

  7. Gently stir in the oil until thoroughly combined.

  8. Next, stir in the bananas, then the carrot, and finally the walnut pieces.

  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

  10. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  11. For the icing
  12. While the cake is baking, remove the cream cheese from the fridge to bring it to room temperature.

  13. Chop the reserved nuts into small pieces suitable for sprinkling over the top of the finished cake.

  14. Once the cake is cold, prepare the icing. Beat together the cream cheese and the butter until creamy.

  15. Beat in the vanilla extract.

  16. Sift in the icing/powdered sugar and beat well until smooth.

  17. Spread over the top of the cake and then sprinkle over the nuts.

 

Old Fashioned Rock Cakes

Old Fashioned Rock Cakes

 

Scrumptious, light and crumbly little rock cakes that are made with mixed fruits and spices.

 

Old Fashioned Rock Cakes
Prepares: 12 cakes
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 325g (12 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (3 cups)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 170g (6 oz) light brown sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • ¼ nutmeg, grated
  • ½ tsp mixed spice (or ½ tsp made up of cinnamon, ground cloves and ground ginger)
  • 170g (6 oz) butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 40g (1½ oz) currants (¼ cup)
  • 40g (1½ oz) sultanas (¼ cup)
  • 40g (1½ oz) raisins (¼ cup)
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/ extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 1–2 tbsp milk

  • Equipment
  • 2 baking sheets/baking trays, lined with parchment paper


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, breaking up any lumps of sugar that cling together. Next mix in the spices.

  4. Add the butter and rub in using the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

  5. Now stir through the dried fruits.

  6. Sprinkle the egg over the mixture and start to bind in, adding a little milk, if necessary, until a stiff dough has formed.

  7. Make 12 mounds of the dough on the baking sheets but do not smooth them out, the surface needs to look irregular.

  8. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes until they become golden brown.

  9. Remove from the oven and leave for a couple of minutes to cool a little. Transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling and then store in an airtight container.

 

The Best Ever Chocolate Cake

The Best Ever Chocolate Cake

 

For chocoholics in the family, this is a delectable chocolate cake. The chocolate flavoured sponge is very light and and the chocolate icing is a little fudgy and is used as a filling too. Of course, you have to finish it off with more chocolate, and slivers of chocolate are used decorate the top. The only non-chocolate addition is apricot jam that is used before adding the icing and this makes it more moist.

 

The Best Ever Chocolate Cake
Prepares: About 10 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 5 tbsp very hot water
  • 225g (8 oz) self-raising flour/self-rising flour (1½ cups + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 225g (8 oz) butter, softened (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 225g (8 oz) caster sugar/white sugar (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 4 eggs, medium (U.K.)/ large (N.A.)

  • For the filling, icing and decoration
  • 140g (5 oz) butter (½ cup + 2 tbsp, or 1¼ sticks)
  • 280g (2½ oz) cocoa powder (½ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 340g (12 oz) icing sugar/powdered sugar (3 cups)
  • 6 tbsp apricot glaze or apricot jam
  • good quality plain/dark chocolate for the decoration

  • Equipment
  • 2 × 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased


  1. Method
  2. For the sponge
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

  4. Blend the cocoa powder with the hot water in a small bowl and leave to cool.

  5. Meanwhile, sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. (Either use a free standing mixer or electric hand mixer.) Add the butter, sugar and eggs. Then pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Beat for 2 minutes until creamy.

  6. Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 25–30 minutes. The cakes should have shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin and will spring back when lightly pressed with a forefinger.

  7. Leave in the tins for 2 minutes then carefully remove, peeling off the lining, and cool on a wire rack.

  8. For the filling, icing and decoration
  9. Place the chocolate for the decoration in the refrigerator to become cold as it will be easier to work with.

  10. Now for the filling and icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.

  11. Put the butter in a medium-sized pan and melt over a low heat. As soon as it has melted, mix in the cocoa powder and cook over a very low heat for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk. Add the icing sugar /powdered sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time, beating well between each addition. You may not need all the sugar. Just add enough to make a coating consistency.

  12. Leave to cool a little. while preparing the apricot glaze.

  13. You can buy apricot glaze in a jar in the U.K. which is ready to use, so just warm through about 6 tablespoons. In Canada, not being able to find apricot glaze, I use apricot jam. Add 1 tablespoon of hot water to 6 tablespoons of apricot jam to thin it a little and gently heat to warm through. The jam will now be of a consistency to pass through a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit.

  14. Invert one the the sponge layers and place on a serving plate. Using a palette knife, carefully coat the top with about a quarter of the glaze, then top with two good tablespoonfuls of the icing. Spread evenly over the jam.

  15. Place the second cake on top and gently press down. Spread the sides and top with the remaining glaze using just enough to coat. Then spread the remaining icing over the whole cake.

  16. Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and, over a plate, pull a potato peeler along the long smooth edge. This will make tiny slivers of chocolate. You will need about 28g (1 oz). Scatter these on top of the cake to decorate.

Updated June 4, 2017

Victoria Day Sponge Sandwich

Victoria Day Sponge Sandwich with Sprinkles

Next weekend is the Victoria Day weekend here in Canada and, as we are having the family over, I shall make a special dessert to celebrate it.

 

Celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday on May 24 goes back to 1845 in Canada, so I thought I would base a cake on the classic Victoria Sponge Sandwich. Apparently, Queen Victoria enjoyed a slice of cake with her afternoon tea and this cake was named after her.  All I have added is the maple leaf to symbolize the Canadian connection.

 

Victoria Day Sponge Sandwich
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30–35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For cake
  • 170g (6 oz) self-raising flour/self rising flour (1 cup + 3 tbsp)
  • 170g (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 170g (6 oz) caster sugar/white sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 3 large eggs (U.K.)/extra large eggs (N.A.)

  • For the filling and decoration
  • 115g (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 225g (8 oz) icing sugar/powdered sugar, sifted (2 cups)
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp raspberry jam
  • icing sugar/powdered sugar for sifting
  • red sprinkles
  • maple leaf template (I printed a shape found on the internet and made sure the size would fit on the top of the cake)

  • Equipment
  • 2 x 18cm/7 inch sandwich tins, base lined and greased


  1. Method
  2. For cake
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas mark 3)

  4. Using a free-standing mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until they are creamy and pale yellow in colour.

  5. Next beat in the eggs, one at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour. (Adding the flour prevents any curdling)

  6. Finally, carefully fold in the rest of the flour until just combined. You want to keep as much air as possible in the mixture.

  7. Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 30–35 minutes until firm to the touch. (When pressing a finger gently on top of the cake in the middle it should spring back and not leave a depression)

  8. Leave in the tins for 2 minutes then carefully remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

  9. Using an all-in-one method in a free-standing mixer
  10. The ingredients can be mixed at the same time using a free standing mixer. To make sure you get a good rise, add 1½ teaspoons baking powder.

  11. Sift the flour and baking powder together into the mixing bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and beat for 1 minute.

  12. For the filling
  13. Beat the butter, then gradually beat in the icing sugar/powdered sugar until light and creamy. (A free-standing mixer does this in no time)

  14. Warm the lemon juice and add to the butter icing.

  15. Once the sponge is cool, invert one of the sponges and place on a plate. Reserve two tablespoons of the icing, spread the remaining buttercream over the sponge, and then cover evenly with the jam. Top with the remaining sponge.

  16. For the decoration
  17. Press a piece of kitchen paper over the top of the cake to absorb any excess moisture.

  18. From the template, cut out the maple leaf, leaving the paper around it intact as you will be needing both pieces. Place the maple leaf section in the middle on top of the cake and, keeping this in place, thickly dust the icing sugar/powdered sugar around the edge. Carefully lift off the maple leaf template.

  19. Now, using the other template, cover the icing sugar/powdered sugar. While holding this in place, spread the remaining buttercream over the middle of the cake. Then sprinkle a thick layer of the red sprinkles over the buttercream and gently press down so they stay in place. Very carefully lift off the template.

Updated: July 3, 2017

Sponge Drops

Sponge Drops

 

These classic little sponges with a buttercream and raspberry jam filling are so light. Just perfect with your favourite afternoon drink.

 

Sponge Drops
Prepares: 10
 
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 5 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponges
  • 115g (4 oz) butter at room temperature (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 115g (4 oz) self-raising flour/self-rising flour, sifted (1 cup)

  • For the filling
  • 85g (3 oz) butter at room temperature (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
  • 170g (6 oz) icing/powdered sugar, sifted (1½ cups)
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ¾ tbsp hot water
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam

  • Equipment
  • 2 large baking sheets lined with baking parchment


  1. Method
  2. For the sponges
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) (gas 7)

  4. Using a free-standing mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until they are creamy and pale yellow in colour.

  5. Next beat in the eggs, one at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour.

  6. Finally carefully fold in the rest of the flour until just combined.

  7. (If using an all-in-one method in a free-standing mixer
  8. The ingredients can be mixed at the same time using a free-standing mixer. To make sure you get a good rise, add half teaspoon baking powder. Sift the flour and baking powder together into the mixing bowl. then add the remaining ingredients and beat for 1 minute.)

  9. Place mixture in rounded teaspoons onto the baking sheets spacing well apart as they will spread. There should be enough for 20.

  10. Pop in the oven for just 5 minutes until they spring back to the touch when lightly pressed with the fingertips. Remove and, using a palette knife, transfer to cooling racks to cool.

  11. For the buttercream filling
  12. While the sponges are cooking, make the buttercream filling.

  13. Using a free-standing mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter until really soft then gradually add the sugar until the mixture is smooth.

  14. Beat in the vanilla essence and hot water. The mixture will be soft and creamy.

  15. As soon as the sponges are cold, spread the mixture over half the sponges.

  16. To finish
  17. Top the buttercream with two teaspoons of jam. Evenly spread the jam so it leaves a small border of buttercream round the edge.

  18. Cover with the remaining sponges.

 

Indulgent Chocolate Easter Cake

Indulgent Chocolate Easter Cake

 

For the chocoholic. A light chocolate sponge with a fudgy chocolate filling, topped with a chocolate ganache, sprinkled with three types of chocolate and topped, of course, with chocolate eggs.

 

Indulgent Chocolate Easter Cake
 
  • Preparation time: 1 hour
  • Standing time: 50 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the cake
  • 85g (3 oz) butter, melted (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick) plus extra for greasing
  • 140g (5 oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (⅔ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 4 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), beaten
  • 115g (4 oz) self-raising flour/self rising flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 14g (½ oz) cocoa powder (2 tbsp)

  • For the filling
  • 50g (1¾ oz) plain chocolate/semi-sweet chocolate (7 pieces), finely chopped
  • 70g (2½ oz) butter, softened (¼ cup + 1 tbsp, or ⅝ stick)
  • 55g (2 oz) cream cheese (¼ cup)
  • 85g (3 oz) icing/confectioner’s sugar, sifted (¾ cup)

  • For the icing
  • 100g (3½ oz) good dark chocolate (minimum of 50% cocoa solids), finely chopped*
  • 55g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)

  • For the decoration
  • 14g (½ oz) good dark chocolate*
  • 14g (½ oz) milk chocolate*
  • 14g (½ oz) white chocolate*
  • a few gold foil or coloured chocolate mini eggs

  • *I love to use Lindt

  • Indulgent Chocolate Easter Cake


  • Equipment
  • A 20.5cm (8 inch) round cake tin, buttered and lined with parchment around the sides and on the bottom


  1. Method
  2. For the cake
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas mark 4)

  4. Gently melt the butter in a pan, then set to one side to cool slightly.

  5. Measure the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk using an electric hand mixer or food mixer at high speed until the mixture is pale, mousse-like and thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted from the mixture. 


  6. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl.

  7. Stir the vanilla essence. into the cooled butter.

  8. Carefully fold half the flour into the egg mixture, then gently pour half the cooled butter around the edge of the mixture and fold in. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

  9. Bake for 40 minutes until well risen and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and cool on a wire rack.

  10. For the filling
  11. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Remove the bowl and leave to cool for 15 minutes.

  12. In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese until it is really soft. Then add the butter and beat until well combined and creamy. A food mixer does this really well. Beat in the icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the cooled chocolate. Don’t over beat the mixture at this stage or it will become stiff. It should be a fudgy consistency.

  13. Cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together with the filling. Return the cake to the wire rack.

  14. For the icing
  15. Melt the butter and half the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir gently until combined. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining chocolate. Stir gently until it has melted and the icing is smooth. Leave to cool.

  16. Put a plate under the cake on the wire rack and pour the icing over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Completely cover the sides by spooning a little chocolate round the top rim of the cake so it runs down the sides to fill in any gaps. Any chocolate that has dripped onto the plate below the rack can be reused for this.

  17. Leave for at least 30 minutes to set.

  18. For the decoration
  19. To make the chocolate swirls, grate the dark chocolate onto a saucer using a swivel potato peeler. If the chocolate is hard, soften it a little by putting it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds. Repeat with the milk and white chocolate on separate saucers.

  20. Sprinkle all three types of chocolate swirls over the top of the icing to decorate.

  21. To finish, carefully place a few chocolate eggs on the top.

Updated: March 25, 2017

Cherry Madeira Cake

Cherry Madeira Cake

 

This is a true classic cherry madeira cake and a slice is perfect with tea or coffee any time of day. The buttery, light texture has a hint of orange flavour and pieces of cherry are generously spread throughout.

 

Cherry Madeira Cake
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 170g (6 oz) butter (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 170g (6 oz) caster sugar/white sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 3 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.)
  • 1 orange
  • 140g (5 oz) self-raising flour/self-rising flour (1 cup)
  • 115g (4 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 170g (6 oz) glacé cherries (1 cup + 1 tbsp)

  • Equipment
  • 15cm (6 inch) cake tin, greased and lined


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F (gas mark 3)

  3. First, rinse the cherries under cold water and then dry them. (This prevents them from sinking when baking). Then cut them into quarters.

  4. Zest the orange and squeeze the juice from one half.

  5. Sift the flours together in a bowl and then set aside.

  6. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. (A little flour can be added between beating in the eggs to prevent the mixture from curdling.)

  8. Beat the orange zest into the mixture.

  9. Fold in the flours and then the glacé cherries.

  10. Finally, add just enough orange juice to give a dropping consistency.

  11. Spoon the mixture into the tin making a slight hollow in the centre with the back of the spoon.

  12. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean after being inserted into the middle of the cake. Cover the cake with a sheet of baking parchment if the top starts to brown too quickly.

  13. Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  14. Note
  15. This cake can be frozen for up to 3 months, just defrost overnight before serving.

  16. Tips
  17. Butter that is at room temperature and not taken straight from the fridge will be softer and just right for creaming.

  18. Always use eggs that are at room temperature. I tend to keep a bowl with half a dozen eggs in on the counter so there are always eggs at room temperature ready to use.


Updated March 23, 2017

Raisin Bran Muffins

Raisin Bran Muffins

 

A classic raisin bran muffin that just crumbles with goodness. Delicious served warm with a knob of butter.

 

Raisin Bran Muffins
Prepares: 12 muffins
 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 85g (3 oz) bran (2⅓ cups)
  • 85g (3 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (½ cup plus 2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 115g (4 oz) soft brown sugar (½ cup plus 1 tbsp)
  • 55ml (2 fl oz) flavourless oil (e.g. groundnut, peanut, not olive oil) (¼ cup)
  • 225ml (8 fl oz) buttermilk* (1 cup)
  • 2 tbsp treacle/unsulphured molasses
  • 85g (3 oz) raisins (⅔ cup)

  • *If you haven’t any buttermilk, stir 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into 225ml (8 fl oz) (1 cup) full fat/whole milk and leave for 15 minutes to thicken up.

  • Equipment
  • 12-hole muffin tray lined with paper baking cups.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F (gas mark 5)

  3. Mix together the bran, flour, soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.

  4. In a separate bowl, using a ballon whisk, whisk the egg and sugar together. Then whisk in the oil, buttermilk and treacle one at a time.The mixture needs to be thoroughly combined and whisking the ingredients in separately makes this easier.

  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

  6. Stir in the raisins until evenly distributed.

  7. Divide the mixture between the paper baking cups (an ice cream scoop makes this easy). Bake for 20 minutes. To check that they are done, lightly press the tops with your fingertip. If they are ready they will feel firm to the touch and your fingertip will not leave an indentation. Cool on a wire rack.

  8. Delicious served warm, cut in half, with a knob of butter.

 

Coffee Topped Victoria Sponge

Coffee Topped Victoria Sponge

 

This version of the classic Victoria sponge is filled and topped with coffee butter icing. In the U.K. this is known as coffee cake but in North America, coffee cake can be any cake meant to accompany a cup of coffee, which is why I called this one a coffee topped Victoria sponge.

 

Coffee Topped Victoria Sponge
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 22 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30–35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For cake
  • 170g (6 oz) self-raising flour/self rising flour (1 cup + 3 tbsp)
  • 170g (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 170g (6 oz) caster sugar/white sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 3 large eggs (U.K.)/extra large eggs (N.A.)

  • For the coffee buttercream
  • 115g (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 225g (8 oz) icing sugar/powdered sugar, sifted (2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp coffee essence/extract

  • Equipment
  • 2 x 18cm/7 inch sandwich tins, base-lined and greased


  1. Method
  2. For cake
  3. Preheat the oven to 160C° (325°F) (gas mark 3)

  4. Using a free standing mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until they are creamy and pale yellow in colour.

  5. Next beat in the eggs, one at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour. (Adding the flour prevents any curdling)

  6. Finally, carefully fold in the rest of the flour until just combined. You want to keep as much air as possible in the mixture.

  7. Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 30–35 minutes until firm to the touch. (When pressing a finger gently on top of the cake in the middle it shouldn’t leave a depression)

  8. Leave in the tins for 2 minutes, then carefully remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

  9. Using an all-in-one method in a free standing mixer
  10. The ingredients can be mixed at the same time using a free standing mixer. To make sure you get a good rise add 1½ teaspoons baking powder.

  11. Sift the flour and baking powder together into the mixing bowl. Then add the remaining ingredients and beat for 1 minute.

  12. For coffee buttercream
  13. Beat the butter, then gradually beat in the icing/powdered sugar until light and creamy. (A free standing mixer does this in no time.)

  14. Beat in the coffee essence/extract until it is well mixed in.

  15. To assemble
  16. Once the sponges are cold, carefully invert one onto a plate and evenly spread half the buttercream over. Then place the other sponge on the top and evenly spread the remaining buttercream over the top of this.

  17. To make a pattern, make straight lines through the buttercream using a fork. Just pull steadily through the surface of the buttercream. Then diagonally pull the fork through at intervals.

  18. (Click for more variations of Victoria sponge sandwiches)

  19. For more tips on cake baking, click on my ‘Tips’ section.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Classic Victoria Sponge Sandwich

Classic Victoria Sponge Sandwich

 

Classic Victoria Sponge Sandwich
Prepares: Approximately 10 slices
 
  • Preparation time: 22 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30–35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For cake
  • 170g (6 oz) self-raising flour/self rising flour (1 cup + 3 tbsp)
  • 170g (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened (¾ cup/1½ sticks)
  • 170g (6 oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 3 large eggs (U.K.)/extra large eggs (N.A.)

  • For filling and decorating
  • 85g (3 oz) unsalted butter, softened (⅜ cup/¾ stick)
  • 170g (6 oz) icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar, sifted (1½ cups)
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam
  • icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar, for sifting

  • Equipment
  • 2 x 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased


  1. Method
  2. For cake
  3. Preheat the oven to 160C° (325°F) (gas mark 3)

  4. Using a free standing mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until they are creamy and pale yellow in colour.

  5. Next beat in the eggs, one at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour. (Adding the flour prevents any curdling)

  6. Finally, carefully fold in the rest of the flour until just combined. You want to keep as much air as possible in the mixture.

  7. Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 30–35 minutes until firm to the touch. (When pressing a finger gently on top of the cake in the middle it shouldn’t leave a depression)

  8. Leave in the tins for 2 minutes then carefully remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

  9. Using an all-in-one method in a free standing mixer
  10. The ingredients can be mixed at the same time using a free standing mixer. To make sure you get a good rise, add 1½ teaspoons baking powder.

  11. Sift the flour and baking powder together into the mixing bowl. Then add the remaining ingredients and beat for 1 minute.

  12. For the filling and decoration
  13. Beat the butter, then gradually beat in the icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar until light and creamy. (A free standing mixer does this in no time.)

  14. Beat in the vanilla and hot water until smooth.

  15. Once the sponge is cool, invert one of the sponges and place on a plate. Spread the buttercream evenly over the sponge and then cover evenly with the jam. Top with the remaining sponge.

  16. Then press a piece of kitchen paper over the top of the cake to absorb any excess moisture and, using a small sieve, thickly dust with icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar.

  17. (Click for more variations of Victoria sponge sandwiches)

Updated: March 10, 2017