The blossom is just starting to appear on my cherry tree and it reminded me that there was a little stash of last years fruit in my freezer. But what should I do with this treasure that I squirreled away? Make a delicious cake of […]
What better Autumn teatime treat could there be than a slice of sweetly spiced loaf cake baked with butternut squash and sweet dried apricots? This cake is deliciously moist (sorry, I don’t have another word for it!) and a little like a fruitier carrot cake. […]
Happy summer solstice everyone! It’s the longest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, which means more hours of daylight (and hopefully sunshine) and as far as I’m concerned that’s cause for celebration. One year (a really, really long time […]
The upside of baking your own birthday cake is that you get to have exactly the cake you want. The downside of baking your own birthday cake is baking your own birthday cake!
I don’t actually mind to be honest, the kitchen is my happy place, so it’s no real chore to spend an hour or so in there creating a delicious treat to share with my friends.
I’ve adapted my recipe for fresh peach buttermilk cake for this. It makes such a lovely bouncy sponge and adding some tart (homegrown) rhubarb makes me love it even more than the original. The rich, creamy custard buttercream is quite literally the icing on the cake. So good!
50ml of vegetable/sunflower oil
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp plain flour
70g custard powder
200g room temperature butter, cubed
Grease and line a 9″ square cake tin and pre-heat your oven to 190°c.
Dice the rhubarb and toss it in 25g of the sugar. Roast the rhubarb in the oven as it pre-heats, until it is just tender.
Beat together the oil, sugar and salt until they are thick and pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift together the flour and raising agents. Add one third of this to the batter and briefly beat it in. Follow this with one third of the buttermilk and beat again. Repeat this until all of the flour and buttermilk have been incorporated and you have a thick, smooth batter. Drain off the juice and fold the rhubarb through the batter. (Don’t throw the juice away – it’s delicious added to a gin and tonic) Pour the batter into the prepared tin and use a spoon to spread it out and smooth off the top.
Bake the cake for around 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and then leave it to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
You can start to make the frosting whilst the cake bakes. Combine everything but the butter in a pan, making sure that there are no lumps. Gently heat the mixture until it turns into a very thick paste. Leave to cool.
Once the custard mixture has cooled transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat it until it starts to become a little fluffy. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, with the mixer running, until you have a rich thick, creamy buttercream. Either spread or pipe this onto the cooled cake, depending on how fancy you’re feeling!
It wasn’t until I travelled to Charleston SC that I thought of praline being anything more than the chocolate seashells that Mr Colonial Cravings receives for Christmas every year. But in Charleston we tried some very tasty crunchy little clusters of caramelised pecans. I think the European ones are usually made from almonds or hazelnuts and ground very finely before they become those little chocolatey indulgences. The caramelised pecan version are what I associate with praline and cream ice cream, the inspiration for this cake!
I’ve shamelessly hijacked the decoration idea from the mojito cake that Jax shared with us all this summer (although hers was far neater than mine!)
350g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
50g cocoa powder
120g butter (softened)
pinch of salt
375g icing sugar
3 tbsp cream
Start by making the praline so that it has plenty of time to cool and become crunchy. Cover a sheet pan with oiled foil or a silicone mat and set it aside. Put the sugar in a wide non-stick pan and gently heat it until it melts and caramelises. If you want to decorate the top of the cake with any whole pecans then set them aside now and roughly chop the rest. Carefully stir these into the caramel and immediately pour them out onto the prepared tray. Leave these to cool and harden whilst you bake the sponge.
Pre-heat the oven to 190°c and grease and line three 18cm (or similar) sandwich tins. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa in a large mixing bowl and then whisk in the sugar and salt. Beat the butter into the mix.
In a separate jug whisk together the eggs and milk. Beat the liquid into the dry ingredients in two batches and then divide the batter between the three prepared tins and level off the tops. Bake the sponges for 20 minutes, by which time they should have risen nicely. Let them cool in the tins for a couple of minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Soften the butter for the frosting by beating it a little. Add the icing sugar and cream and beat again until you have a thick fluffy frosting. Now to crack on with the cake construction!
If necessary trim the sponges to give them nice level tops and then sandwich them together with about a quarter of the buttercream between each layer. Use the remaining buttercream to coat the top and side of the cake. Make the top nice and smooth but don’t worry about the side too much as long as there’s enough frosting coating them for the praline to stick.
Put the caramelised pecans into a food processor and pulse them until they are quite finely chopped. Gently pat them into the sides of the cake, making sure that they stick in a nice even layer. Decorate the top of the cake with any pecans that you set aside earlier or just leave it plain.