Raspberry lemon drizzle cake

Raspberry lemon drizzle cake

I just can’t get enough of baking with fresh summer fruit at the moment, so when I was trying to decide how to make a classic lemon drizzle cake more summery, it wasn’t long before I decided to throw some lovely sweet British raspberries into it.

I’ve made lemon drizzle cake in a loaf form a few times before, but went with a traybake style for this raspberry lemon drizzle cake so I could have the oven on for as short a period of time as possible – I had no desire to melt any more in this heatwave than was completely necessary!

Raspberry lemon drizzle cake

I adapted the recipe from one in my little BBC Good Food book, and it was extremely easy to make, as it basically involved chucking all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing them thoroughly. I coated the raspberries in flour before stirring them in, but they still sank to the bottom during baking, presumably because there wasn’t that much of a distance between them and the bottom of the tin.

Raspberry lemon drizzle cake

The drizzle topping itself was also easy to make, and sank nicely into the cake after baking, while creating a sugary top. The original recipe calls for simply pouring it straight over the top of the cake, but I did what I’ve always done and pricked some holes into the top of the cake with a skewer to help it sink in.

Raspberry lemon drizzle cake

The resulting cake was absolutely delicious – extremely lemony and with a nice sweetness from the sugar and raspberries. The sponge was very light, so it felt like I was eating hardly anything at all, which is dangerous when you have a big pile of cake to get through while also trying to keep your weight down!

Raspberry lemon drizzle cake

The recipe

Adapted from BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes.

Makes 15

For the sponge:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 150g raspberries

For the drizzle:

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 100g golden caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Grease and line the base of a 18 cm x 28 cm rectangular tin.
  2. Put the butter, flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, milk and lemon zest in a bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Toss the raspberries in some flour and stir them into the cake mix.
  4. Pour the mixture into the tin and level the top. Bake for 30-40 mins, until golden and firm to the touch.
  5. Make the drizzle by whisking the lemon juice and sugar together. Use a skewer to lightly poke some holes into the top of the cake and pour the drizzle all over it, while it’s still hot from the oven.
  6. Leave the cake to cool completely before slicing it up into squares.
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Upside down apricot layer cake

Upside down apricot layer cake

I do like a good upside down cake. My favourite has long been the pineapple variety, but I acquired some fresh apricots and thought I’d give them a go to see what an upside down apricot cake would be like. I also like a nice layer cake, so I thought I might as well combine the two!

I adapted a BBC Good Food recipe for this – the original uses peaches and clotted cream, whereas I went for apricots and creme fraiche (as it was all I had in!). I sliced up the apricots as neatly as I could, tossed them in some sugar and lined one of the baking tins with them, scattering the rest of the sugar over the top.

The sponges themselves were a doddle to make thanks to the good ol’ all-in-one method, although I did have to leave them for a good 10 minutes longer in the oven than specified.

Upside down apricot layer cake

As you can see from the above picture, the top layer looked a lot nicer fresh out of the oven than it did the next day (top pic) due to the juices from the cooked fruit making the top slightly soggy. As such, making this on the day you want to eat it is a wise idea.

Upside down apricot layer cake

For the filling, I spread apricot jam on the top of the bottom sponge layer and mixed the creme fraiche with sugar and vanilla extract before slathering it on top of the jam. The creme fraiche was rather runny so I would use double cream or clotted cream as suggested in the original recipe next time. Despite that, it did taste nice!

Upside down apricot layer cake

I have to say, this was a rather delicious cake. The apricots were pretty tart (both the fresh and jam varieties) but this contrasted nicely with the sweet sponge and cream filling. The only downside is that the cake spoiled really quickly in the extreme heat we’ve been having recently – I really should have put it in the fridge or eaten the lot very quickly! Let that be a lesson to you all…

The recipe

Serves 8-10

For the sponges:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 200g golden caster sugar (I had to use a mixture of normal caster sugar and light brown sugar)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk

 

For the topping:

  • 4 ripe apricots
  • 85g light brown sugar

 

For the filling:

  • 1-2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 100g creme fraiche or 230g double cream/clotted cream
  • 1-2 tbsp golden caster sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

 

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas 4/180C/fan 160C. Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together, then add the butter, sugar, eggs and milk. Beat with an electric whisk until smooth.
  3. Halve the apricots, slice each half into quarters and mix thoroughly with the 85g of sugar. Line one of the baking tins with the apricots and scatter any remaining sugar over the top.
  4. Divide the sponge mix between the two tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden. The tin with the apricot layer may take a little longer to cook. Leave the sponges to cool on a wire rack.
  5. Beat the creme fraiche with the golden caster sugar and vanilla extract. Spread the cooled plain sponge layer with the jam and spread the creme fraiche mix over the top. Sandwich with the apricot sponge and serve. Be sure to eat it all up asap or store any leftovers in an airtight container – ideally in a fridge, if the weather’s warm!

My top 5 coconut baking recipes + 5 on the to-bake list

This post heralds the start of what I hope will be a series of occasional round-ups of some of my favourite baking recipes, each with a different theme. Today, I’m kicking things off with one of my most beloved ingredients: coconut!

1) Mango and coconut cake

Mango and coconut cake

This was my second attempt at a cake combining two of my favourite ingredients – and it was definitely a charm. This is the perfect summer cake and one that won’t last for very long!

2) Lemon coconut cake

Lemon coconut cake

This is one of the most popular recipes on this blog, and for good reason. As if the beautiful combination of coconut and lemon isn’t enough, the whole thing is finished off with a decadent cream cheese icing. The perfect Easter cake!

3) Coconut layer cake

Coconut layer cake

This is a wonderfully versatile cake that you can sandwich with whatever you fancy – you could go for pretty much any jam, some kind of chocolate buttercream, lemon curd, more coconut… you get the picture. This post is also a good example of my tendency to get over-excited and throw in more coconut than required by the recipe.

4) Orange macaroon cake

Orange macaroon cake

I initially wanted to make this cake to combine both mine and my boyfriend’s favourite flavours to celebrate his return from a long summer away with work last year (pass the sick bucket, eh?!). It’s incredibly more-ish and makes a lovely change from the more traditional pairings of coconut with various types of berry.

5) Bounty cake

Bounty cake

The daddy of ’em all, this is my most recent coconut-related success – and it’s bloody gorgeous. Not for the faint-hearted, there’s more coconut than you can shake a stick at, and you can tweak the flavours however you like. Just don’t skimp on the coconut.

And here are 5 more that I want to bake…

1. Coconut and lemon bakewell tart (John Whaite)

I’ve never baked a tart, but I’d really like to start with this one… yum!

2. Coconut quindim (BBC Good Food)

Never heard of a quindim? I hadn’t, until I came across this recipe. It’s a Brazilian dessert and looks bloody lovely.

3. Coconut and cardamom bread and butter pudding (Good Food Channel)

You start reading the name and you’re thinking: ‘oooh… exotic’. Then you get to ‘bread and butter pudding’ and you’re suddenly all ‘oh’. But I do like bread and butter pudding, and combining a quintessential British pud with lovely Indian flavours is a nice idea.

4. Fluffy coconut and lime cake (olive magazine)

I love coconut with lime. This looks so very tempting, and could be a nice special occasion cake.

5. Lemon, almond and coconut friands (Made From Scratch)

I’d really like to bake these for a sophisticated afternoon tea with a twist. You can’t go wrong with coconut and almond together!

Do you have any favourite coconut-related bakes?

Review: Northcote 7-course meal and afternoon tea

I’m deviating from my usual baking blog post this week to rave about Northcote, a hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant in one of the most beautiful parts of Lancashire. I whisked my boyfriend away to this lovely establishment earlier in the week as part of his 30th birthday celebrations for a seven-course meal and afternoon tea the next day (so there is some baking to discuss!), and we had such a great time that I want to tell you all about it and urge you to go!

About Northcote

Firstly, a little bit about Northcote itself: the hotel is fairly small, with 18 rooms, but it’s beautifully decorated and furnished, and boasts some amazing views of the surrounding Ribble Valley and Forest of Bowland. It has its own gardens in which a wide variety of produce is grown, and this focus on local ingredients is one that definitely comes through in the restaurant’s menus.

Northcote is run by Nigel Haworth, with head chef Lisa Allen in charge of creating the restaurant’s dishes. I first came across both of them while watching Great British Menu a few years ago, and was impressed by their cooking even then. A colleague of mine recommended Northcote to me a while ago when we were talking about gourmet breaks in general (read his review here), and I made the decision to go for it back in March.

The meal

Neither of us eat meat, so I booked us in for a vegetarian tasting break. I thought we may as well try as many different things as possible, as it’s unlikely we’ll get to eat at many Michelin-starred restaurants during our lifetimes! We were told to make sure we went down for dinner half an hour before our booking to enjoy some Louis Roederer champagne and canapés, as well as to browse the menu that was especially designed for us mushroom-hating vegetarians:

Northcote vegetarian tasting menu

The menu looked absolutely perfect from the outset. My boyfriend opted for the wine package (where he had the recommended wine with each course), while I sensibly just had a glass of wine every other course to avoid not remembering a thing about this lovely meal the next day!

We were then taken into the dining room, where we were seated near the French windows offering spectacular views of the nearby hills. To our surprise, we were offered a ‘pre-starter’ that wasn’t on the menu – an eggshell filled with a creamy cow’s milk curd custard, which surrounded a ball of sorrel granita and was topped with a salt and pepper yolk. There was also a delicate cheese and rosemary breadstick to go with it. I now refer to this course as the poshest egg and soldiers EVER. It was absolutely delicious and I scraped my eggshell clean!

The first proper course was just as lovely. Neither of us are huge fans of blue cheese, but there was just the right amount in the sauce to add flavour but not overpower the artichokes. Similarly, my boyfriend doesn’t really like avocado, but he loved the second course. I was particularly intrigued by the samphire, having never had it before but seen it on countless episodes of Masterchef and Great British Menu. It was indeed delicious.

We were particularly looking forward to the third course, being huge fans of beetroot. It didn’t disappoint. The presentation was very summery and I really liked the horseradish with the beetroot.

Northcote three beets, herbs and flowers

Three beets, pickled shallot hearts, horseradish, herbs and flowers

The next course was pretty unique – I don’t think I’ve ever had anything remotely like it before. The ‘curry flavours’ were delivered in what I think was a yogurt-based coating on the wood-burnt onion, and were very delicate. I was quite excited about the next course, as I’ve never had gooseberries before. Their tartness went perfectly with the kiev and sorrel elements, and I’m happy to say I am now a firm gooseberry fan. I should say that this course was accidentally delivered to us with a mushroom sauce, but the staff were very efficient in quickly swapping it for what we were supposed to have, so we have no complaints on that front!

Then came what were my two favourite courses of the night. We were both in raptures over the heirloom tomatoes, which we agreed were the most tomato-y tomatoes we’ve ever had. I assume this is partly down to the tomato itself, but I think they were also cooked in such a way to deliver maximum flavour. Absolutely gorgeous!

Northcote heirloom tomatoes, courgette and flower

Heirloom tomatoes, slow-roasted courgette and flower

I was, of course, especially looking forward to the dessert. I love strawberries and was expecting a lovely little pile of them with blobs of minted cream. To my delighted surprise, we got this instead:

Northcote strawberries, cream and mint

English strawberries and cream, garden mint

The centrepiece was a sphere of milk chocolate filled with cream and an absolutely divine strawberry coulis. Around it was some milk chocolate soil and fresh strawberries on a bed of cream with fresh mint. I was most definitely in dessert heaven and could have eaten three more of this course!  At this point, we retired to the bar for a post-meal whisky (my boyfriend) and an extremely alcoholic espresso martini (me).

I have to say that the sommelier for our meal, Adam, was absolutely brilliant in explaining the flavours for the wine chosen for each course, and how they complemented the food. Every wine was perfectly selected and we could definitely see how each one matched the food on our plates. I should also praise the waiting staff who explained the components of each dish so we could fully appreciate them. All in all the service was absolutely top notch.

We did come away pleasantly full and extremely happy with the meal. If you’re concerned that a tasting menu might leave you feeling hungry due to the small portions, I would say this is not a problem if you go to Northcote! I would imagine the meat-based menu to be even more satisfactory in this regard.

Afternoon tea

The next day, we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast in the restaurant (Lancashire cheese omelette) and then spent the day exploring the area. We attempted a country walk but got lost fairly quickly (this is normal for us), so we drove to Clitheroe instead. I’d never been before but I would go again – it’s a pretty market town with lots of independent shops and the ruins of the smallest Norman castle in England. We bought some cheese (Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese and, rather intriguingly, Lancashire goats cheese) and then spent some time in a beer garden in Waddington before heading back to Northcote for afternoon tea on the terrace.

I’d like to think of myself as a bit of an afternoon tea connoisseur by now, so I was really looking forward to seeing what would be served up after the wonderful meal the previous night. We weren’t disappointed:

Northcote afternoon tea

Afternoon tea at Northcote

We had a nice selection of mostly vegetarian sandwiches (I tried a smoked salmon sandwich, which was lovely – and I don’t particularly like smoked salmon!) which we polished off pretty quickly, having not eaten since breakfast. We then moved on to the middle tier – a plain and fruit scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam, which is my favourite combination for a cream tea, so I was particularly pleased with that! The scones were lovely – nice and light and a great carrier for the rich cream and sweet jam.

Northcote afternoon tea

Scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam

Then it was on to the top tier – shortbread, lemon meringue tarts, mini Victoria sponges and Valrhona chocolate cakes. The shortbread was the lightest shortbread I’ve ever had, but no less delicious for it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The curd in the lemon tarts was absolutely delightful and the pastry perfectly baked.

I LOVED the Victoria sponges. I’m a firm believer in a Victoria sponge being the centrepiece of any afternoon tea, and the ones we had at Northcote were beautiful, with a light sponge dotted with fresh strawberries and a topping of freshly whipped cream and strawberry jam. We both finished with the chocolate cakes, which were topped with salted caramel hazelnuts. They were very chocolatey thanks to the choice of chocolate (read my thoughts on Valrhona cocoa here!) and were the perfect way to end our afternoon.

Northcote afternoon tea

Chocolate cakes, lemon tarts, Victoria sponges and shortbread

The tea that accompanied our feast was very nice as well – it’s always good to see large fragments of tea leaves in the pot instead of the fine ground stuff you usually get. We lingered on the terrace for a while to enjoy the sunshine and views before finally driving home.

All in all, our time at Northcote was a wonderful experience that we’ll never forget. We both agreed that the meal was the best we’ve ever had in a restaurant, with both the food and service coming together to create the perfect evening, while the afternoon was the cherry on the cake, so to speak! If you’re looking for ideas for a luxurious gourmet getaway in beautiful surroundings, I honestly can’t recommend Northcote enough. We will definitely go back.

Barm cakes

Barm cakes

Continuing my efforts to stick to my boyfriend’s new year’s resolution of having me bake more bread, I decided to try another Paul Hollywood recipe earlier in the week – barm cakes.

A northern staple, barm cakes are absolutely brilliant, especially for breakfast – I like them to form a crucial part of the good ol’ (veggie) sausage butty, while my boyfriend prefers them filled with a couple of fried eggs, cheese and hot pepper sauce.

Unfortunately, my baking experience with this particular bread was a little mixed. As you can see from the photo above, they’re not exactly perfectly round, and they’re not particularly risen, either. However, the good news is they looked, felt and tasted like barm cakes on the inside, so it’s not all bad!

Barm cakes

Hollywood’s recipe starts off in the same way as most of his white bread recipes, and it all seemed to go swimmingly until the bit where the recipe diverges from the others in order to get the bread the right shape. I think I rolled out the dough balls a bit too flat, and then didn’t leave them to rise for long enough (although they had more than the time specified, and in a warm kitchen on a warm day).

I put them in the oven anyway hoping that they would rise more, which they did, but not as much as expected. However, once they were cooled, split open, filled and eaten they proved (ha!) to be absolutely delicious, with none of the raw texture or flavour you would expect from a dough that hasn’t quite risen enough.

It’s all a bit of a mystery to an amateur bread baker like myself, but at least my boyfriend could justify having more than one for breakfast thanks to the small size!

The recipe

From How to Bake by Paul Hollywood. You can also find the recipe online here.

 

Blackberry and almond cake

Blackberry and almond cake

I bought a load of blackberries at the weekend, thinking that I’d *definitely* make a cake with them. Then I saw them in the fridge a few days later and realised I had no idea what to bake with them, nor for whom, as my boyfriend had been and gone in the interim! Undeterred, I flicked through my recipe folder and found this little gem for blackberry and almond cake.

Blackberry and almond cake

This is a rather delightful cake to make – very easy yet extremely scrumptious, and perfect as either a cold teatime treat or a warm dessert with lashings of cream or ice cream. I didn’t have a big enough square tin, so I used a 20 cm x 30 cm rectangular tin instead, and added a splash of almond extract for an extra almond-y flavour.

Blackberry and almond cake

The rectangular tin resulted in 15 pieces, most of which I distributed to friends and colleagues – but I kept a few for myself and am very much enjoying them! I’m particularly impressed by the rise, considering I only used self-raising flour and no extra baking powder. A good rise = more cake for all, which is surely a good thing…

The recipe

From the September 2012 issue of Asda magazine:

Makes 15/16 pieces

  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 150g blackberries
  • 50g flaked almonds

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line either a 23 cm x 23 cm square or 20 cm x 30 cm rectangular tin with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract (if using) until light and creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the floor between each one.
  4. Fold in the remaining flour, ground almonds, milk and lemon zest.
  5. Fill the cake tin with the mixture, level the top and press the blackberries into the surface until they’re level with the top of the mixture.
  6. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top and bake for 35 minutes, until the top springs back when pressed.
  7. Leave to cool on a wire rack and serve either warm with cream or ice cream, or cold with a lovely brew!