First bake: honey and coconut lamingtons

Honey and coconut lamingtonsI’ve been using WeightWatchers online on and off for the last three years or so, losing over 2 stone in the process – but with still a few more pounds to go until I hit my target weight. The last few months have definitely been an ‘off’ period thanks to the upheaval of moving and an incredibly busy time at work, but I’m now determined to get back ‘on’ again!

It was with that in mind that I bought the July issue of WW magazine and immediately mentally bookmarked a recipe for honey and coconut lamingtons to bake as soon as possible.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with WW baking recipes. On the one hand, they seem so promising – what’s not to like about a low-fat, low-sugar cake that you can enjoy without feeling guilty?

However, the low fat and low sugar means the end product generally isn’t as satisfying as the real deal, especially for someone who bakes as often as I do. This means that I have, on occasion, turned promising-looking WW recipes into more guilt-inducing versions by swapping some ingredients for unhealthier but nicer ones.

I was actually forced to do that with this recipe due to not having a couple of the ingredients specified – namely, some WW-brand coconut yogurt and something dubious-sounding called ‘half sugar’. I swapped these out for full-fat coconut yogurt and golden caster sugar.

Honey and coconut lamingtons

Sponge squares, pre-embellishments

If you’ve never heard of them before, lamingtons are a popular cake in Australia/New Zealand and are basically sponge squares dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. They do know how to tick all the right boxes, those folk down under. This WW recipe replaces the chocolate with a honey syrup and does away with butter in the sponge to keep the fat levels low.Honey and coconut lamingtonsThe cake itself went without a hitch and rose beautifully. I had some trouble with the honey syrup as it seemed to take an age to reduce down into an actual syrup – I eventually had to take it off the heat before it properly thickened because there wouldn’t have been any left if I’d left it simmering for much longer! However, I did manage to create some sort of sticky sauce so all was not lost.

Honey and coconut lamingtonsRolling the cakes in the coconut was extremely fun, although slightly frustrating as I couldn’t coat them as completely as I would have liked!

Honey and coconut lamingtonsThe end result? Extremely coconutty overall! Which is fine by me and my coconut-loving ways, but I’m slightly disappointed that the honey flavour isn’t as strong. Still, the cake itself is nice considering there’s hardly any fat in it, and as one of these is equivalent to half a slice of full-fat cake, I feel perfectly able to go ‘ooh, just one more’ without experiencing any pangs of guilt!

The recipe

From WeightWatchers magazine.

Makes 16 with a ProPoints value of 4 each if you follow my method (if you follow the original recipe and cut it into 15 as specified, it’s still 4PP each!)

  • 4 eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g coconut yogurt (I used Asda’s own; the original recipe calls for a pot of WW coconut yogurt)
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 50g cornflour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g dessicated coconut

For the syrup:

  • 100g clear honey
  • 25g golden caster sugar (original recipe uses half sugar)
  • 175ml cold water
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas 4/180C/fan 160C. Line an 18cm square tin (I used a 20cm tin) with baking parchment.
  2. Whisk the eggs until pale, creamy and thick. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thicker and creamier.
  3. Stir in the yogurt and sift in the self-raising flour, cornflour and baking powder, folding these into the mixture until well-combined.
  4. Pour the mix into the tin and bake for 30 mins until risen, golden and springy to the touch. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 mins, then remove and cut into 16 and leave to cool on a wire rack while you make the syrup.
  5. Warm the honey, golden caster sugar and cold water until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and leave at a vigorous simmer for 6-7 minutes (you might need longer) until the mixture has reduced by half and is thick and syrupy. Cool for a few minutes before using.
  6. Spread the coconut on a plate. Dip each cake square in the syrup, coating all sides, then roll in the coconut. Repeat for the other cakes and store in an airtight tin. The lamingtons will keep for up to 3 days.

First bake: strawberry layer cake

Strawberry layer cakeI absolutely love fresh strawberries, but have never really baked with them that often. I decided to rectify that recently by making this tempting strawberry layer cake – the perfect summer bake for those rare occasions when the sun’s out!

I adapted a recipe I found elsewhere on the web for strawberry and vanilla cake to make this. I replaced the vanilla bean paste with vanilla extract and didn’t cover the entire cake in the icing, as I didn’t have the time or the fridge space for it! I also swapped the cream cheese in the icing for mascarpone, as that’s all I had (annoyingly, it was the other way round for the citrus poppy seed cake I made a few weeks ago!).

Strawberry layer cakeI loved the resulting cake – the almonds worked really well in the sponge and the fresh strawberries in the middle were lovely. I was a bit dubious about including jam in the middle, but it actually worked well by adding some extra sweetness.

This is a fairly similar recipe to the raspberry and lemon layer cake I made last month – both are perfect for the summer and you can swap the berries for pretty much any other fresh summer fruit if you don’t have strawberries or raspberries to hand!

The recipe

From the Roswensian blog – http://roswensian.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/vanilla-strawberry-cake/

First bake: citrus poppy seed cake

Citrus poppy seed cakeCitrus and cake is, in my eyes, one of those world-beating combinations that absolutely cannot fail to please. I’ve made a fair few citrus-flavoured cakes in the past, but I think this has to be my new favourite!

What sets this apart from my previous citrus-themed baking efforts is the fact it combines both lemons (three of them!) and oranges (two) for a truly full-on flavour. I also very rarely bake with poppy seeds, but I can fully understand why lemons and poppy seeds are often paired together.

Citrus poppy seed cake mix

Citrus poppy seed cake mix

The cake is really easy to make once you’ve got the tedious zesting out of the way. The recipe includes natural yogurt in the mix, which does seem to make a big difference to the texture of the cake – I don’t think I’ve made many cakes with a fluffier, lighter crumb!

Citrus poppy seed cakeThe cake topping is supposed to be mascarpone, but I couldn’t get hold of any, so I used full-fat cream cheese instead. I also mixed in a little icing sugar along with the lemon curd and orange juice called for in the recipe. Believe me when I say the icing is bloody amazing.

Citrus poppy seed cakeCitrus poppy seed cake

The balance of flavours in this cake is absolutely spot on. The citrus is strong, but not overly so, and is nicely complemented by the earthy poppy seeds and the decadent icing. I honestly can’t praise this cake enough – I think it’s zoomed straight into my top ten cakes of all time!

The best thing is that there’s still some left…

The recipe

Can be found in BBC Good Food’s 101 Cakes & Bakes.

The latest addition to my kitchen

The kitchen in my sort-of-new house is large and painted white – in other words, crying out for some artwork. I commissioned a piece from my rather talented boyfriend, who magically made a Moomin appear on the wall above my table:

Moominmamma decorating a cakeThis is Moominmamma, decorating a rather impressive looking cake. On my kitchen wall. The image is from the rather excellent Moomins Cookbook, which has some lovely cake recipes (among other things) all the way from Finland/Moominvalley.

We actually wanted this on a large canvas, but couldn’t find one big enough – but I think Moominmamma looks rather fetching on the wall itself!

First bake: apricot and raspberry buckle

Apricot and raspberry buckleI love the ‘reduced’ section at the supermarket – when some good stuff has been reduced, that is. Last week I discovered punnets of both raspberries and apricots with the magic yellow sticker on them, so I instantly snapped them up and started searching for a cake recipe that could include both fruits.

The first recipe that came up was a BBC Good Food one, so, of course, I decided to make that one. This was a recipe for apricot and raspberry buckle – a buckle being a type of cake that incorporates fresh fruit and has a crumble-style topping.

This was really easy to make (I’m not sure why BBCGF says it’s ‘moderately easy’ as opposed to ‘easy’). Make the crumble, make the mix, and layer the two in the tin before baking. Thassit.

Apricot and raspberry buckle mix

Apricot and raspberry buckle mix

However, I did find that the crumble mix was a little difficult to distribute evenly across the cake, whether that’s because I didn’t have enough or whether it was just the wrong consistency. As a result, it sort of settled in blobs and sunk slightly into the cake, as you can see below.

Apricot and raspberry buckleDespite this, the crumble was still pretty crumble-like and the cake overall was very tasty indeed. I’ve actually never had fresh apricots before and they were a bit of a revelation – they’re quite plum-like when raw, but wonderfully sweet when cooked (with, erm, a fair bit of sugar). The recipe says you can have this warm, so I had my first piece warm from the tin with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. YUM.

Apricot and raspberry buckleThe fact that you can have this warm or cold makes it really versatile and worth filing away if, like me, you quite like having leftovers to enjoy by yourself after cooking a nice meal for others!

The recipe

On the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4472/apricot-and-raspberry-buckle