Posts Tagged ‘cake’


chocolate cake

Baking soothes the soul

Unsettled, squalid weather makes for a perfect cake baking day.  And yesterday was such a day.  Whether you opt for a sandwich cake filled with something sweet and creamy or whether it’s a cake popped out of a spring form tin, baking a cake – for yourself and/or loved ones – is a pleasurable act.

They say that baking soothes the soul.  How can it not?

“The reassuring ritual of quietly weighing out butter, sugar, flour, cracking eggs, whisking, beating and folding”

The smell of a cake wafting through the house providing instant comfort and security from the world outside.  The sense of achievement that you managed to combine the ingredients and create an elemental change in them should never be underestimated.

Basic quantities are 225g of self-raising flour, sugar, butter and 4 eggs.  Baked for 20/25mins.  But feel free to create variations – e.g. for a chocolate sponge swap 2 table spoons of the flour for 2 of cocoa powder.

What filling/topping you go for is a matter of how far you allow your imagination to take you.  Sandwich style cakes can be filled with fruits and or cream as well as topped with a dusting of icing sugar, chocolate ganache, or a calorific butter frosting.  Whether it’s a childhood psychedelic marble cake or a traditional Victoria sponge cake, there is a nostalgic nursery-teatime quality to the custom of cutting cake.  And any iced-cake is ultimately a birthday cake waiting to be called into service.


ultimate chocolate cake

Whilst stocking up the fridge after my weekly shop I realised I had a few plums and pears at the back of the fridge that had been there for quite a while.  There was also half a punnet of blackberries that were on the turn and needed using up.


I didn’t want to waste any of them and throw them away, but there is only so much fruit I can buy without it turning.

After giving it some thought the best and most effective way to use these up was by putting them into a cake.

I went to task, peeling, coring and slicing the pears; washing the plums, removing their stone and picking out the blackberries that had the merest hint of mould on them.  The cake batter was a simple sponge mixture but slightly tweaked to incorporate ground cinnamon and using plain flour instead of self raising flour.  

A standard sponge recipe calls for 2 eggs and some milk but as I can be quite clumsy when it comes to adding milk, I used 3 eggs instead.

Pear, Plum and Blackberry Sponge Cake


20131006-115529.jpg150g Plain Flour

150g Butter

150g Soft Brown Sugar

3 Eggs

1 1/2 tspns Baking Powder

Vanilla Extract / Almond Essence

1 tspn Cinnamon

Flaked almonds and demerara sugar optional

For the Cake:

1st: Cream the sugar and butter together.

2nd: Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.

3rd: Add a splosh of vanilla extract/almond essence or a dash of both!

4th: Sift in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder.  Mix.

5th: Pour into a greased and lined baking tin.  Assemble the fruit as you wish.

6th: Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 25-30mins.

7th: Sprinkle the cake with flaked almonds and demerara sugar and put back into the oven for 10mins.

8th: Allow to cool before serving.


Delicious as a tea-time cake or equally rewarding with vanilla ice cream as a decadent dessert!

Give this cake a go.  A simple fruit sponge cake with added extras.  Experiment with different fruits.  If you buy out of season fruits the best way to bring out their natural sweetness is to bake them, so why not bake them in a cake?  Members of the plum family are best at taking on spice.  This cake would work with ground ginger, nutmeg, clove but if you want to keep it simple; cinnamon is the direction to go.

Considering they were destined for the bin, the outcome was certainly a resounding success.


Posted: March 13, 2012 in cake
Tags: , ,

Cake.  It’s not that difficult.  We all know the eating is easy, especially if in cupcake or muffin form, the joy about these being that they are also portable snacks of sugary love.  Actually the hard part is sometimes restraining yourself from eating that 3rd slice!

Seriously though, making a cake is not difficult but why do so many people think that it is?  Some dinner dishes require more effort and organisation than making a cake which can take around 30mins to make and bake.  And remember, whilst the cake is in the oven; you are doing nothing!

“Baking a cake is purely scientific; alchemy.  There is an elemental change between the ingredients.  Flour, sugar, butter and eggs the ubiquitous quartet of ingredients in every sponge cake.”

I read somewhere that there are 3 cardinal rules when baking a cake:

  • all ingredients should be at room temperature
  • the oven should be at the required temp when you put in the cake batter into the oven
  • keep to the tin dimensions specified – a cake demands mathematical respect.

All 3 make sense in a scientific way.  (i) If you add cold eggs to the creamed butter mixture it will probably cause the mixture to solidify and seize.  Cold butter would just be impossible to cream with the sugar.  (ii) if the oven is cold as when you put the batter in, the gradual rise in temp will cook the batter at a slow rate and then be undercooked by the end of its cooking time.  (iii) a wider tin will create a shallower sponge.

So with these few words of cake baking advice I proceeded to making a coffee and walnut cake.

Coffee and Walnut Cake

For the sponge:

1st: Cream together 225g of butter with 225g of caster sugar.

2nd: Add 225g of self raising flour and 4 eggs alternately until all the mixture is fully incorporated.

3rd: Make a very strong cup of coffee and add 2 tblspns to the mixture. Leave the remaining coffee for the icing.

4th: Add 50g of walnut pieces to the mixture.  Mix through.

5th: Divide the mixture between 2 sandwich tins. Place in a moderate oven and bake for 30mins.

For the buttercream icing:

1st: Sift 350g of icing sugar into a bowl.

2nd: Add 175g of butter to another bowl and gradually mix in the icing sugar.

3rd: Add a tblspn of coffee to this and mix in.

Once the two cake halves are cool you can start assembling your cake.  Decorate as you wish.  I don’t really go in for the ceremonious symmetrical design of walnut halves around the edge.  I prefer getting the remaining packet of walnut pieces and covering the top with it. Easier and much less fuss.

This cake calls for a cup of coffee with it to echo the coffee flavouring within the cake.  I think I hear a piece calling me now!