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!
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First bake: spiced honey cake

Spiced honey cake

There isn’t anything much more comforting than a spiced cake, especially on a dreary day or when you’re simply feeling a little under the weather. This recipe from Asda magazine caught my eye not just because of the spices, but also due to its use of honey – yet another baking ingredient I adore!

It’s a fairly simple cake to make; the wet and dry ingredients are mixed separately, then there’s the fun bit where you stir some bircarbonate of soda into orange juice and watch it fizz up! The mix ends up being rather runny (see pic below), but it does firm up in the oven.

Spiced honey cake mix

Spiced honey cake mix

The cake was baked to perfection in 45 minutes. I managed to forget to retain a tablespoon of the orange juice for the icing, so I used a splash of syrup from a jar of stem ginger, a little orange blossom honey and some water instead. The recipe says to drizzle the icing over the cooled cake, which I did in careful diagonal lines to begin with, but then ended up accidentally splashing a fair bit in the middle of it, so just drizzled the rest over any old how – hence the messy appearance!

The finished cake is rather gingerbread-y in texture, but still sufficiently soft enough to be classified as a cake. It’s wonderfully light – there’s no butter in this recipe, just sunflower oil. The spice flavour is nice and strong, but doesn’t overpower the honey.

Spiced honey cake

All in all, this is an excellent cake and one I would make again. It’s highly recommended if you too love spiced cakes, and also if you’re trying to reduce your fat intake – there’s only 4.1g of fat (including 0.6g of saturated fat) and 5 WeightWatchers ProPoints per piece! So go ahead and treat yourself without feeling guilty…

The recipe

Taken from Asda magazine (July 2012).

Serves 16

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 1 level tsp mixed spice
  • 1 level tsp ground ginger
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 175g orange blossom honey
  • 75ml sunflower oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • finely grated zest of half an orange
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100ml freshly squeezed orange juice, plus 1 tbsp for the icing (I used 1 tsp stem ginger syrup, 1 tsp orange blossom honey and a splash of water instead of the orange juice in the icing)

1. Line a 21cm shallow square cake tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, ginger and cinnamon together in a bowl. Stir in the caster sugar.

3. In another bowl, beat the honey, oil, eggs and zest. Stir into the flour mixture.

4. Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the orange juice. It will start to fizz up. Immediately stir into the cake mixture until evenly mixed. Pour into the tin – it’s a very runny mixture but firms up when cooked.

5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool on a wire rack.

6. Mix the icing sugar with the extra orange juice, then drizzle on top of the cake. Cut into 16 squares.

First bake: lemon coconut cake

Lemon coconut cake

Coconut is one of my favourite flavours, but I don’t bake as much as I’d like with it. I’ve had this recipe for lemon coconut cake in my folder since last Easter, and when it was decided that there would be a huge Easter bake sale at work this week for a mega fundraising effort, I knew I was probably going to make this cake.

I don’t make many layer cakes, mostly because I’m not properly equipped for them – you usually need several shallow cake tins of the same size, and I always seem to have one fewer than needed (for my favourite Victoria sponge recipe, I always bake one big cake and slice it in half). For this three-layer cake, then, I had to be a little inventive. I ended up using my deep cake tin to bake two-thirds of the mixture for longer than stated and for cutting in half later, and a shallower tin of the same size for the rest. I probably should have measured the mix in a jug or something, because each layer turned out a slightly different size!

Lemon coconut cake mix

Lemon coconut cake mix

No matter. While the cake looks like one big glorious mess (I really need the cake decorating class I signed up to recently!) it tastes divine. A word of warning: this is not a cake to try if you’re a bit scared of calories. The cake itself contains a hefty amount of sugar and butter, while the cream cheese icing is pretty much just pure fat. But it’s well worth it. The combination of the tangy lemon curd, super rich icing and light coconut sponge is wonderful. I would personally prefer a bit more coconut flavour, but my mum (who is notoriously hard to please) said it was perfect!

The recipe says you can decorate it if you like. I just sprinkled some dessicated coconut over it, but it would look lovely with a bit of the curd mixed into the top layer of icing to make it Easter yellow and mini eggs or edible flowers scattered over. I’m not sure how well the cake will hold up on the bus-train-walk faffery that is my journey to work tomorrow – the slices are pretty tall and might fall over in my tupperware box! If you were to make this and need to transport it somewhere, it’s probably best to do so with the cake in one piece and slice it up at your destination.

Lemon coconut cake

The recipe

From Asda Magazine, April 2011

Serves 10

  • 225ml milk
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 350g caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of two large unwaxed lemons
  • 100g dessicated coconut
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 225g butter
  • 4 large eggs

For the filling:

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 300g soft cheese
  • one-quarter tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 150g good quality lemon curd

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line three 20cm shallow cake tins.

2. Put the milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice in a jug and leave to stand for at least 5 minutes.

3. Put the rest of the juice in a pan with 75g of the caster sugar and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and coconut. Set aside.

4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Set aside.

5. Cream together the butter and the rest of the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

6. Fold in the flour, milk and coconut mix. Transfer to the tins, level the tops and bake for 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool on a wire rack.

7. For the filling, cream the butter and icing sugar, then beat in the soft cheese, vanilla and lemon juice.

8. Sandwich the cakes with the lemon curd and two-thirds of the filling. Spread the rest on the top of the cake and decorate, if desired.