Raisin spice cake

Raisin spice cake
I’m hell-bent on going about my life as if it was proper autumn, rather than this strange sort-of-autumn-but-actually-still-a-bit-summer we’ve been having. This includes baking, and this raisin spice cake really is a rather lovely autumnal bake perfect for a chilly evening with a nice cup of tea.

I’ve made this cake once before, but I didn’t have a ring tin at the time, so I just made it in a standard round tin. I think it looks much nicer as a ring cake, even if it is a bit more of a faff to get out of the tin!

The recipe is very straightforward – make the topping and place it at the bottom of the tin (I used a bundt tin), then put the cake mix on top and bake.

Raisin spice cake topping

Raisin spice cake topping, pre-baking

The topping is a rather lovely combination of chopped hazelnuts, spices and demerara sugar, and there’s a good amount of it, so you’ll definitely appreciate it when the cake is out of the oven and ready to eat.

The cake itself has yet more spices and raisins plumped up with a bit of orange juice, which makes for a lovely flavour that propels the bake above your average fruit cake.

Raisin spice cake
Oddly for me and my temperamental oven, the cake was perfectly cooked in the time stated in the recipe, which was nice as I had to miss 10 seconds of the Great British Bake Off quarter-final to take it out of the oven!

As mentioned, it didn’t come out of the tin without bits of it coming away with the tin, which was disappointing. I did, however, make sure those bits didn’t go to waste *ahem*.

The cake seemed massive when it was baked, but my boyfriend and I managed to polish it off alarmingly quickly. It really is a wonderful cake and just the thing for autumn, if it ever gets here!

Raisin spice cake
The recipe

This is in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes, but it isn’t on the website. It seems to be accessible via Google Books, though.

Autumn berry cake with lemon and honey icing

Autumn berry cake
I was rather excited a few days ago when I discovered that Luis Troyano, one of the contestants on the current series of Great British Bake Off and one of my favourites to win, has a website that he updates with his own rather fantastic recipes. The first thing I saw, this autumn berry cake with lemon and honey icing, immediately zoomed straight to the top of my to-bake list – which meant I ended up baking it for the office’s Jeans for Genes bake sale.

Autumn berry cake
The cake was pretty easy to make – it’s basically a lemon cake that reminds me a lot of the madeira cake I like to make topped with a delicious lemon and honey icing and a pile of blackberries and raspberries. The berries also make it into the cake itself.

Autumn berry cake
The cake mix was simple enough to concoct – you make the batter, put half in the tin and top with some of the berries, then put the other half in with more berries to finish, with the aim of having the berries distributed evenly throughout the cake.

However, I was a little worried when I had to replace the 4 medium eggs called for in the recipe with 2 medium and 2 extra large from the rather fantastic Levenshulme Market. I added some extra flour to compensate, which seemed to work okay. I did have a stressful time of it when I checked the baking cake after 45 minutes and found the middle was still pretty much raw! I just left it in for something like 20-25 extra minutes and covered the top with foil to prevent it from going too dark.

Autumn berry cake

Autumn berry cake, pre-icing

When the cake was completely cool, I roughly piped the lemon and honey icing over the top and plonked some berries on top. I left the icing to set overnight and hoped against hope that the middle would be cooked when I sliced it up in the morning – which, thankfully, it was!

Autumn berry cake
The only disappointment, if you can call it that, is that the berries in the mix sank to the bottom of the cake, which seems to have happened with Luis’s own cake as well. I think I would coat the berries in flour first next time to see if that makes a difference. However, the sinking of the berries certainly didn’t detract from the overall flavour – the cake was beautifully moist and lemony, with the berries adding a nice sharpness and the icing offering further interest, especially with the flavoursome honey.

This is a really beautiful cake that would be a lovely centrepiece for afternoon tea – I’ll definitely make it again, and perhaps try some different berries next time, depending on the season! It went down well at the bake sale and we raised a nice amount of cash for Jeans for Genes altogether, which was certainly the icing on the cake (boom boom) (sorry).

Autumn berry cake
The recipe

Can be found on Luis Troyano’s website here.

Death by chocolate muffins

Death by chocolate muffinsQuestion: how do you make the most decadent, chocolaty muffins ever even more tempting? Answer: by filling the middles with a dollop of chocolate fudge cream cheese! Or so I found out when I adapted a recipe I use quite a lot to make these ‘death by chocolate’ muffins for the office charity sale.

I’ve had a tub of Asda Chocolate Fudge soft cheese in the fridge for a while. I bought it on a whim when doing my online grocery shop, but couldn’t decide what to do with it until I was trying to choose what to bake for work. My triple chocolate muffins (technically quadruple chocolate, because there’s cocoa powder as well as milk, dark and white chocolate) always go down a treat, and I’ve previously adapted the recipe to incorporate a caramel filling.

So, I thought the other day, why not do the same with this oh-so-lovely soft cheese?

Asda Chocolate Fudge Soft CheeseI made the muffins by whipping up the dry and wet mixes separately, then folding the wet mix into the dry one until just incorporated. Then I half filled the muffin cases with the mix, added a spoonful of the chocolate fudge cheese to the middles, and spooned the rest of the muffin mix on top, making sure that it covered the cheese entirely to prevent leakage.

Death by chocolate muffins

Death by chocolate muffins, halfway through assembly

Then it was just a case of baking them for 20 minutes. You have to be careful when taking the muffins out of the oven, as the chocolate chunks in the mix melt and sometimes ooze out of the muffin cases, so it’s best to leave them to cool in the tin for a while before attempting to transfer them to a wire rack.

Death by chocolate muffinsEt voila! A batch of muffins that will surely satiate appetite of the most ardent chocoholic (which I most certainly am). They went down extremely well in the office – I’m glad I managed to save one for myself beforehand, otherwise I wouldn’t have got a look in!

Death by chocolate muffinsSome people warmed the muffins for a few seconds in the microwave to re-gooey-fy (that’s a technical term) the chocolate, which is a nice idea – especially if you want to serve them as dessert with cream or similar.

Death by chocolate muffinsHowever, the cheese centre is more than enough in terms of gooey loveliness, so the muffins are absolutely great cold. I will definitely make these again soon, but perhaps not for the office… :o)

Death by chocolate muffins

The recipe

Adapted from a recipe for triple chocolate muffins in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes

Makes 12 muffins

  • 250g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g dark chocolate chunks
  • 100g milk chocolate chunks
  • 100g white chocolate chunks
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 300ml soured cream
  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 85g butter, melted
  • 200g tub chocolate fudge soft cheese (I got mine from Asda, but you can also use Philadelphia’s chocolate cream cheese or similar)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/180C fan. Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tin.
  2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and chocolate in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, soured cream, sugar and butter.
  4. Fold the wet mix into the dry mix until just combined (don’t over-stir!).
  5. Divide half of the mix between the 12 muffin cases.
  6. Place a teaspoon of the soft cheese on top of the mix in each of the cases, placing it squarely in the middle.
  7. Spoon the rest of the muffin mix over the top of the cheese, making sure that it covers the cheese completely.
  8. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, until well risen. Remove them from the oven and leave them to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (or eat them warm!).