Chocolate Marble Cake

This recipe makes a really light and airy cake. Perfect on its own or served with whipped cream.

Chocolate Marble Cake

8 servings
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) milk (½ cup)
  • 1 x 100g bar plain/dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids
  • 60 ml (2½ fl oz) crème fraîche (¼ cup) (sour cream can be used as a substitute)
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 170 g (6 oz) butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 170 g (6 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 3 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), lightly beaten
  • 225 g (8 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted (1¾ cups)
  • salt
  • icing/powdered sugar to dust

Equipment

  • You will also need a bundt pan with a base measurement of 20 cm (8 inches), greased and dusted with flour, or a 20 cm (8 inch) springform cake pan, sides greased and dusted with flour, base lined with baking parchment.
  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
  • Break up the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl with half the milk. Sit the bowl over a pan of just simmering water to melt the chocolate, about 5 minutes. Make sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate and milk until combined and then put to one side to cool.
  • Now in a small bowl, lightly whisk together the remaining milk, crème fraîche (or sour cream), and brandy. Put to one side.
  • Next, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Now gradually add the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the mixture.
  • Using a large metal spoon fold in half the flour with a pinch of salt and then add half the milk mixture. Repeat using the remaining flour and milk mixture.
  • Spoon slightly less than half the cake mixture into a separate bowl and quickly mix in the melted chocolate.
  • Then combine both batches of the cake, marbling lightly so that both mixtures are still apparent.
  • Carefully spoon into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 minutes, until a fine skewer comes out clean when poked through the centre of the cake.
  • Leave in the pan until the cake is fairly cool and then turn out on to a wire rack.
  • Dust the top with icing/powdered sugar to serve.
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Old Fashioned Rock Cakes

Rock Cakes

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

Old Fashioned Rock Cakes

12 cakes
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 325 g (12 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (2⅔ cups)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 170 g (6 oz) light brown sugar ( cup)
  • ¼ nutmeg, grated
  • ½ tsp mixed spice, or pumpkin pie spice
  • 170 g (6 oz) butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 40 g (1½ oz) currants (⅓ cup)
  • 40 g (1½ oz) sultanas (⅓ cup)
  • 40 g (1½ oz) raisins (⅓ cup)
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/ extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 1 –2 tbsp milk

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  • Mix in the sugar, breaking up any lumps that cling together.
  • Next mix in the spices.
  • Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Now stir through the dried fruits.

  • Sprinkle the egg over the mixture and start to bind in, adding a little milk, as necessary, until a stiff dough has formed.
  • Make 12 mounds of the dough on the baking sheets but do not smooth them out, the surface needs to look irregular.

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

  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • Store in an airtight container.
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Coffee Topped Sponge

Coffee Topped Victoria Sponge

This version of the classic 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 sponge.

Coffee Topped Sponge

8 servings
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30–35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For cake
  • 170 g (6 oz) self-raising flour/self rising flour, sifted (1 cup + 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 170 g (6 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 3 large eggs (U.K.)/extra large eggs (N.A.)
  • For the coffee buttercream
  • 115 g (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 225 g (8 oz) icing sugar/powdered sugar, sifted (2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp coffee essence/extract

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 x 18 cm (7 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased


  • Method
  • For cake
  • Preheat the oven to 170C° (325°F) (gas 3)
  • First, sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl to introduce as much air as possible. Put to one side.
  • Using a free standing mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until they are creamy and pale yellow in colour.
  • Next beat in the eggs, one at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour. (Adding the flour prevents any curdling)
  • Finally, carefully fold in the rest of the flour until just combined. You want to keep as much air as possible in the mixture.
  • 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. The sponge should spring back when gently tapped with the tip of a finger.
  • Leave in the tins for 1–2 minutes then carefully remove, peel off the linings, and cool on wire racks.
  • Using an all-in-one method in a free-standing mixer
  • The ingredients can be mixed at the same time using a free standing mixer.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together into the mixing bowl and then add the remaining ingredients and beat for 1–2 minutes until the mixture is light and creamy.
  • For coffee buttercream
  • Beat the butter until creamy and then gradually beat in the icing/powdered sugar until smooth. (A free standing mixer does this in no time.)
  • Beat in the coffee essence/extract until it is well mixed in.

  • To assemble
  • Once the sponges are cold, carefully invert one onto a plate and evenly spread with half the buttercream.
  • Then place the other sponge on top and gently press down.
  • Evenly spread the top with the remaining buttercream.
  • 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.

Note

  • The first method of mixing the cake is the classic method and the all-in-one method is the modern version. It’s purely a matter of personal preference which you use.
  • For more tips on cake baking, click on my ‘Tips’ section.
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Updated: June 20, 2020

Cappuccino Tray Bake

A perfect little square to accompany that coffee, mid-morning. A coffee sponge with crushed walnuts is topped with a smooth white chocolate and mascarpone icing. And then dusted with cocoa powder.

Cappuccino Tray Bake

18 servings
  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter, softened (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 225 g (8 oz) caster/superfine sugar (1⅛ cups)
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 3 tbsp Espresso coffee, or coffee extract
  • 225 g (8 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted (1¾ cups)
  • tsp baking powder
  • 85 g (3 oz) chopped walnuts (⅔ cup)
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • For the topping
  • 250 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 55 g (2 oz) icing/powdered sugar (½ cup)
  • 140 g (5 oz) white chocolate
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter, melted (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Equipment

  • You will also need 30 cm x 25 cm (12 x 10 inch) brownie tin/pan, greased and lined.
  • Method
  • For the sponge
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
  • Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand whisk or alternatively a food mixer with whisk attachment.
  • Add the sugar and beat again until light and fluffy.
  • Now add a quarter of the beaten eggs and beat at full speed.
  • Then add the remaining egg gradually, beating well between each addition. If the mixture begins to curdle, just add 2 tablespoons of the flour.
  • Next add the coffee and whisk in.
  • Spoon over the flour, baking powder, and chopped walnuts. Lightly fold in by hand until all the flour is incorporated.
  • Now loosen the mixture with the milk.
  • Pour into the prepared tin/pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and leave in the tin/pan to cool completely.
  • For the topping
  • First melt the chocolate. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl sitting over a pan of just simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Continually stir the chocolate until it has just melted and then remove immediately from the heat and leave to cool while preparing the topping.
  • Beat the mascarpone in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Sift in the sugar and beat again until combined.
  • Add the melted chocolate and butter. Beat until smooth.
  • Now spread evenly over the cake.
  • Sift over cocoa powder.
    Cappuccino Tray Bake
  • Then cut into squares.
    Cappuccino Tray Bake
  • Note
  • The squares need to be stored in the refrigerator.
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Orange and Raisin Loaf

A very light cake where the orange flavour really comes through.

Orange and Raisin Loaf

  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 55 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • For the loaf
  • 170 g (6 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted (1⅓ cups)
  • 170 g (6 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • pinch of salt
  • 115 g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.)
  • 1 orange
  • 115 g (4 oz) raisins (¾ cup)
  • For the icing
  • 170 g (6 oz) icing sugar/powdered sugar (1½ cups)
  • 3 tbsp hot water

Equipment

  • You will also need a 23 x 13 cm (9 x 5 inch) loaf tin/pan, greased and lined.
  • Method
  • For the loaf
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
  • Beat together the butter, sugar, and the zest of the orange until soft and creamy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the sifted flour and the juice of the orange. Beat well.
  • Now fold in the remaining flour and salt.
  • Carefully stir through the raisins until evenly distributed.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin/pan and level the surface.
  • Bake above the centre of the oven for 50–55 minutes until the surface springs back when lightly touched with the forefinger.
  • Leave to cool in the tin/pan for 10 minutes.
  • Then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For the icing
  • Sift the icing/powdered sugar into a large bowl and then gradually add enough water until a coating consistency is reached.
  • Spread over the top of the loaf using a palette knife.
  • Leave to set.
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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

12 muffins
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 85 g (3 oz) bran (2 cups)
  • 85 g (3 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (⅓ cup)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 115 g (4 oz) soft brown sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 55 ml (2 fl oz) flavourless oil (e.g. groundnut, peanut, not olive oil) (¼ cup)
  • 225 ml (8 fl oz) buttermilk* (1 cup)
  • 2 tbsp treacle/unsulphured molasses
  • 85 g (3 oz) raisins (⅔ cup)

Note

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

Equipment

  • You will also need a 12-hole muffin tray lined with paper baking cups.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 190° (375°F) (gas 5)

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

  • In a separate bowl, using a ballon whisk, mix the egg and sugar together.

  • Then stir in the oil, buttermilk, and treacle one at a time. The mixture needs to be thoroughly combined and stirring the ingredients in separately makes this quick. You do not want to over mix.

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

  • Finally stir through the raisins until evenly distributed.

  • Now fill the paper baking cups using an ice cream scoop. Bake for 18 minutes until the tops feel firm to the touch. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

  • Delicious served warm, cut in half, with a knob of butter.
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Updated: February 8, 2020

Carrot Sultana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Topping

Carrot and Sultana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Topping

Carrot Sultana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Topping

15 cupcakes
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the cupcakes
  • 140 g (5 oz) softened butter (⅔ cup)
  • 1 medium orange, finely zested
  • 170 g (6 oz) light muscovado/light brown soft sugar (⅔ cup)
  • 140 g (5 oz) carrot, peeled and coarsely grated (1 large)
  • 2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 115 g (4 oz) sultanas (1 cup)
  • 200 g (7 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour, sifted (1⅓ cups)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • For the frosting
  • 400 g (14 oz) cream cheese (1¾ cups)
  • 4 tbsp icing/powdered sugar

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 x 12 hole patty tins/bun pans filled with 15 cupcake baking cases. Also a large piping bag fitted with a medium sized nozzle.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas4).

  • In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whisk the butter, zest, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Next stir in the carrot, eggs, milk, and sultanas. Then mix in the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder.

  • Now equally fill the cases using an ice cream scoop.

  • Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are firm to the touch when lightly pressed with the tip of a finger.

  • Leave to cool in the tins/pans for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. While the cupcakes are cooling, beat the cream cheese in a bowl until soft. Then sift in the icing/powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly combined.

  • Spoon into the piping bag and, once the cupcakes are cool, use to make a swirl on top of each cupcake.
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A Great British Coffee Cake

A Great British Coffee Cake

This is truly a great cake for coffee lovers. The sponge is very light and full of coffee flavour, and the rich coffee buttercream is so creamy and fluffy.

A Great British Coffee Cake

8 large slices
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 170 g (6 oz) butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 150 g (5¼ oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅔ cup)
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 40 g (1½ oz) golden syrup* (2 rounded tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp coffee extract, or Camp coffee
  • 170 g (6 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted (1⅓ cups)
  • ½ –1 tsp baking powder

Note

  • *I buy my golden syrup from a British store here in Canada. If you are unable to find golden syrup then substitute it with liquid honey.

  • For the filling and decoration
  • 150 g (5¼ oz) unsalted butter, softened (⅔ cup, or 1¼ sticks)
  • 300 g (11 oz) icing/powdered sugar (2¾ cups)
  • 2 tbsp coffee extract, or Camp coffee
  • 1 tbsp warm water

  • 2 tbsp icing/powdered sugar, for sifting
  • 24 chocolate buttons OR
  • 40 milk chocolate chips

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 × 18 cm, 7 in sandwich cake tins/pans, greased and base lined. Also a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized star nozzle.


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

  • Cream the butter and sugar together with a hand held electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

  • Now gradually add the beaten eggs, golden syrup, and coffee, together with 2 tablespoons of the flour.

  • Fold in the remaining flour and ½ teaspoon baking power.

  • OR put everything in a mixing bowl or food mixer, but adding 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and whisk until the mixture is smooth, light, and fluffy.

  • Divide equally between the two cake tins/pans and level the tops.

  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are firm and spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. The sponges will also have slightly shrunk away from the sides of the tins/pans.

  • Leave for a couple of minutes and then turn out onto wire cooling racks and remove the lining paper. Leave to cool completely.

  • For the filling and decoration
  • Meanwhile beat the butter, icing/powdered sugar, coffee, and water together until the mixture is smooth, light, and fluffy.

  • Put a quarter in the icing bag and put to one side.

  • Place one of the sponges on a flat surface and spread evenly with the remaining coffee cream. Then place the second sponge on top and sift heavily with icing/powdered sugar.

  • Now lightly mark the top of the cake with a knife through the icing/powdered sugar into 8 equal portions. (This will be used as a guide for the piping.)

  • Now starting from the outside edge of the cake, pipe a line of buttercream on each marked portion but only take it up within an inch of the centre. Then pipe a ring of stars to join the lines in the centre.

  • Arrange the chocolate buttons or chocolate chips in the lines of piped buttercream.

  • To finish, lightly dust over the whole cake with a little icing/powdered sugar.

  • Note:
  • The cake can be frozen. Put in a rigid container with a cover and freeze. To thaw, allow 2–3 hours at room temperature.
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Coffee Walnut Cakes

Coffee Walnut Cakes

This recipe makes 20 individual cakes of a light coffee sponge filled with finely chopped walnuts. They are sandwiched with a creamy coffee filling which is also used to coat the top. Each cake is then decorated with a half walnut. Scrumptious!

Coffee Walnut Cakes

20 cakes
  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter, softened (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 225 g (8 oz) light muscovado sugar/light brown soft sugar (1 cup)
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), lightly beaten
  • 225 g (8 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (1¾ cups), sifted
  • 85 g (3 oz) walnuts, finely chopped (⅔ cup)
  • 2 tsp coffee extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

  • For the decoration
  • 200 g (7 oz) butter, softened (⅞ cup, or 1¾ sticks)
  • 450 g (1 lb) icing/powdered sugar (4 cups), sifted
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • tsp coffee extract
  • 20 walnut halves

Equipment

  • You will also need a tin/pan 20 × 30 × 5 cm (8 × 12 × 2 inches) base lined. The right-sized roasting tin/pan will work.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).

  • Using a food mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

  • Now gradually add the beaten eggs. If the mixture begins to curdle, just add 1 tablespoon flour.

  • Using a large spoon, fold in the flour and then the coffee extract, milk, and chopped walnuts until combined.

  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin/pan and level the surface. Bake for 35–40 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

  • Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out of the tin/pan to cool completely. Because of its size, the easiest way to do this is to place a wire rack over the top of the tin/pan, turn the rack over, lift off the tin/pan, and peel away the lining from the cake. Then place a second wire rack over the bottom of the cake and set the cake the right way up on the wire rack.

  • Meanwhile, to make the butter icing. Beat together the butter, icing/powdered sugar, vanilla and coffee extracts, together with 1½ tablespoons of hot water, until smooth.

  • To make it easier to decorate, cut the cake into two once it has completely cooled. Now slice each half horizontally through the middle and then sandwich back together using half the butter icing. Spread the remaining icing over the top of the cakes.

  • Cut each cake into 10 equal pieces and decorate each piece with a walnut half.
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Basic Sponge Sandwich

Basic Sponge Sandwich

A simple light sponge recipe that is the basis of many kinds of sponge cakes, the famous one being the Victoria Sponge Sandwich. This basic sandwich sponge can be filled with a conserve or creamy filling and the top iced, usually with a soft icing, or simply covered with caster or icing sugar/powdered sugar.

Basic Sponge Sandwich

6 –8 servings
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20–25 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 115 g (4 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 115 g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 x 18 cm (7 inch) sandwich tins, greased and base-lined.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)

  • Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer makes this cake very quick to prepare.

  • First, sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl to introduce as much air as possible.

  • Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix for 1 minute until the mixture is creamy.

  • Divide evenly between the two pans and level the tops.

  • Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 20–25 minutes until firm to the touch. The sponge should spring back when gently tapped with a fingertip.

  • Leave in the tins for 1–2 minutes then carefully remove, peel off the linings and cool on a wire cooling rack.

  • For a deeper sponge
  • This is known as a two-egg cake, for a deeper sponge use 3 eggs and increase the rest of the ingredients accordingly, and bake for 30–35 minutes.

  • This mixture will also make
  • This quantity of mixture will also be sufficient for 18 cup cakes, a 18 cm (7 inch) square cake, a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake or a 23 cm (9 inch) ring cake.
  • Alternatives to a plain sponge
  • Chocolate
  • Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder blended with 1 tablespoon of boiling water.

  • Coffee
  • Add 2 teaspoons of coffee extract or 1 tablespoon of instant coffee blended with 2 teaspoons of hot water.

  • Citrus
  • Add 1 teaspoon of grated orange, lemon or lime rind.

  • Tips
  • Always line the base of the tin even if it is non-stick. When greasing, brush butter on evenly. The cake will still stick if it is greased unevenly.

  • Have everything weighed or measured before beginning to mix.

  • No self raising flour? Add 1 level teaspoon baking powder to every 115 g (4 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour. Sift the flour twice to incorporate as much air as possible and mix the two ingredients together thoroughly.
  • Butter should be at room temperature for baking. If you’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge, it can be microwaved on defrost for 20–30 seconds, until the butter is soft but still holds its shape.

  • Leave at least 1 inch space all round tins so that the heat can circulate freely.

  • Give the sponges the baking time suggested in the recipe but use this as a guide. Ovens vary – some are hotter and so cakes will take less time to cook and vice versa. It is better to start checking a few minutes before the allotted time. and if the cake is cooked in less time take it out of the oven. Conversely, if it is not ready at the allotted time allow a couple more minutes and check again. Also, when a cake is ready you can smell it. So your sight and smell are good allies.
  • To tell when they are ready, gently touch in the centre with the fingertips and, if the mixture feels springy and no imprints remain, the cakes are baked. They should also shrink away from around the sides of the tin.

Tips

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Updated: October 3, 2018

Banana Breakfast Muffins

Banana Breakfast Muffins

Want something different from toast for breakfast? Try these tasty muffins. They are full of goodness with bananas, milk, yogurt, bran and more. Just halve, spread with butter and enjoy.

Banana Breakfast Muffins

12 muffins
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 13–15 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) milk (½ cup)
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) natural yogurt (½ cup)
  • 3 tbsp flavourless oil
  • tsp vanilla essence/extract
  • 140 g (5 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1 cup)
  • 140 g (5 oz) wholemeal/wholewheat flour (1 cup)
  • 70 g (2½ oz) light muscovado/soft, light brown sugar (⅓ cup)
  • 28 g (1 oz) wheat bran (⅔ cup)
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda/baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Equipment

  • You will also need a 12-hole bun tray/muffin pan.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).

  • Either lightly grease the bun tray/muffin pan or line with paper cups.
  • Now peel and mash the bananas (a potato masher makes this easy).

  • Then whisk the egg in a small bowl.
  • Add the milk, yogurt, oil, and vanilla extract to the egg and whisk in.
  • Now add the bananas and blend into the mixture.
  • In a separate large bowl sift the flours and mix together.
  • Now add all the remaining ingredients (except for the banana mixture) and mix in well.
  • Finally stir in the banana mixture.
  • Spoon into the cups using an ice cream scoop.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Cool muffins in the bun tray/muffin pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack/cooling rack.

Note

  • They freeze well.
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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

  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 5 tbsp very hot water
  • 225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour/self-rising flour (1½ cups + 1 tbsp)
  • tsp baking powder
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter, softened (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 225 g (8 oz) caster/white sugar (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • For the filling, icing, and decoration
  • 140 g (5 oz) butter (½ cup + 2 tbsp, or 1¼ sticks)
  • 280 g (2½ oz) cocoa powder (½ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 340 g (12 oz) icing/powdered sugar (3 cups)
  • 6 tbsp apricot glaze or apricot jam
  • good quality plain/dark chocolate for the decoration

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 x 20 cm (8 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased.


  • Method
  • For the sponge
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

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

  • 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 drizzle the cooled cocoa mixture over the top. Beat for 2 minutes until creamy.

  • Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 35–40 minutes. The cakes should have shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin and will spring back when lightly pressed with a forefinger.

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

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

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

  • 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/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.

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

  • 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.

  • Invert one of 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 28 g (1 oz). Scatter these on top of the cake to decorate.
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Updated July 22, 2018