Blackberry Victoria sponge

Blackberry Victoria sponge
When my fiancé turned up with a jar of homemade blackberry and apple jam, I just knew I was going to incorporate it into a cake somehow. And even though it didn’t feel like that long since I last made a Victoria sponge, I really wanted to make another one with blackberry jam instead of my usual strawberry – so here’s my blackberry Victoria sponge.

It’s just my normal Victoria sponge recipe with a different jam, so it feels like a bit of a cheat to blog about it, but it was so delicious! The jam was perhaps a little more subtle than the strawberry variety, but that might also have something to do with me being a little overenthusiastic with the buttercream…

Blackberry Victoria sponge
It’s well and truly blackberry season, so this would be a great cake to make if you have lots of blackberry jam on your hands. If you’re not in the habit of making your own jam, you could try making a thick blackberry compote to use instead, or even just slice up some fresh berries and toss them in a bit of sugar instead.

 

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Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
My favourite thing about summer is definitely the abundance of lovely produce we get here in the UK, especially the type of produce that I can bake with! Summer berries offer a foolproof way to incorporate a splash of sunshine into baked goods, and it doesn’t get much easier than this blackberry, raspberry and almond cake.

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
I’ve made similar cakes before (see my blackberry and almond cake, raspberry and almond madeira cake and cherry Bakewell cake, among others!), but I just can’t get enough of the combination of summer berries and almonds.

This really was very easy to make. The main thing to get right is the distribution of the berries to avoid them all sinking to the bottom. I chose to coat half of the berries in flour and stir them into the cake mix, then plop the rest on top of the mix in the tin – and it seemed to work a treat!

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
I also threw a few whole almonds on top (I picked them out of a packet of M&S St Clements cashews and almonds, which are coated in orange and honey – yum!) but you could top the cake with flaked almonds instead, or just leave them out altogether – the main almond flavour comes from the ground almonds and almond extract in the cake mix.

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
The cake really is delicious – the tart berries and tangy lemon zest go so well with the sweet, almond-y sponge. I think it works perfectly as a dessert with a generous dollop of cream, but it’s lovely on its own as well. I would perhaps recommend incorporating fewer berries if you choose to eat it on its own, just to get a slightly firmer texture that’s easier to hold.

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
This truly is summer on a plate – go and make this before the sunshine disappears!

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake recipe

Serves 8-10

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour, sifted, plus a little extra for the berries
  • 75g ground almonds
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 100-150g raspberries (use 150g if serving as a dessert with cream; less for eating the cake on its own)
  • 100-150g blackberries (as above)
  • handful of whole or flaked almonds (optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a round 23cm cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with the second egg to limit curdling (but don’t worry if it curdles anyway).
  4. Add the rest of the flour to the mix, along with the ground almonds, lemon zest and milk. Fold gently until combined.
  5. Toss half of the berries with a little extra flour until they’re thinly coated, then stir these into the cake mix.
  6. Transfer the mix to the tin and level the top. Scatter the remaining berries and whole/flaked almonds (if using) on top.
  7. Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly pressed in the middle.
  8. Let the cake cool in the tin for 15 mins then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely (or serve warm with cream or ice cream).

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.

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!

First bake: blackberry and coconut olive oil cake

Blackberry and coconut olive oil cakeI made a bit of a faux pas earlier in the week and completely forgot that it was my turn to do the charity baking at work for Friday. Luckily, I’d already planned to do some baking this weekend, so I could promise to bring something in for Monday. I decided on a carrot, apple and raisin cake that I’ve made before and this rather lovely blackberry and coconut olive oil cake.

Granted, it’s not really blackberry season, but the supermarket had some going cheap and I couldn’t resist. I trawled through quite a few blackberry baking recipes before I found this one; there were a lot of blackberry and apple cake recipes but as there’s apple in the other cake I made, I wanted to do something a bit different. If you know me you’ll know exactly why this particular recipe caught my eye – the addition of coconut!

The cake was really easy to make, bar nearly 10 minutes of whisking the eggs and sugar together (I did this with an electric hand mixer on the lowest setting, but how I wished I had a KitchenAid!). Everything else is folded in, poured into the tin and baked. And that’s it.

Blackberry and coconut olive oil cake mix

Blackberry and coconut olive oil cake mix

It’s definitely recommended to take the time required to increase the volume of the eggs and sugar, because there’s no baking powder in this recipe – and the flour isn’t the self-raising variety! All of the lift comes from the air incorporated into the mix during the whisking, so do make sure you stay the course if you attempt this recipe.

I have to say, the cake tastes absolutely fantastic. The blackberries and coconut go wonderfully together, and the wholemeal flour doesn’t make the cake at all dense. It might be the variety of olive oil I used (bog standard supermarket brand), but the olive oil isn’t that discernible to the palate, so there’s no danger of an odd flavour intruding into the beautiful relationship between the coconut and blackberries.

Blackberry and coconut olive oil cakeIt’s worth noting how (relatively) healthy this cake is – no butter is used apart from for greasing the tin. If you cut the cake into 12 pieces, each portion is only 153 calories! It’s definitely a good recipe for everyone on the diet wagon this month, but it’s lovely even if you aren’t – it certainly doesn’t taste like a low fat cake. I can even imagine having this warm with cream as a dessert.

I just hope my colleagues are pleased enough with both cakes to forget about my moment of forgetfulness!

The recipe

From the London Bakes blog here: http://londonbakes.com/2012/07/blackberry-and-coconut-olive-oil-cake.html

First bake: blackberry muffins

Blackberry muffins

Here’s a rather shamefaced confession for this particular baker to make: I’ve re-joined WeightWatchers in an attempt to shed the pounds that have crept on ever since I moved back home to be faced by my mum’s awesome curries night after night. Don’t worry (if, indeed, you are worried) – I will keep baking lots of bad-for-you delights, although I won’t “test” as much as I used to. I’m making a small concession this time round, though, by trying a WW recipe to help get me on the right track.

I’ve actually had quite a good experience with WW baking recipes in the past (but not so much with their rank veggie lasagne and some sort of low-fat cheesy pasta that, quite rarely for my dustbin of a family, was unanimously voted The Most Disgusting Thing Ever). I actually prefer WW’s gingerbread to a richer version I’ve also made, and there are also some good cookie recipes. This muffin recipe caught my eye because they’re only 4 ProPoints each, and also because I very rarely bake with blueberries, for some reason.

Unfortunately, my local supermarket didn’t have any blueberries, so I settled for some blackberries instead, which again I don’t bake with very often. I followed the rest of the recipe to the letter, even going so far as to buy skimmed milk, which I would normally denounce as milk-coloured water.

Blackberry muffin mix

Blackberry muffin mix

The muffins were really easy to make, although I felt a little under pressure by the recipe demanding that I spoon the mix into the tin “quickly”. I’m very slow at transferring muffin mix to paper cases, because I’m obsessed with making sure each case has an equal amount of mix (funnily enough, the muffins always end up being different sizes anyway).

As you can see from the pictures, the muffins were well browned by the time 20 minutes was up. The blackberries held their shape pretty well, although as my brother found out to his dismay, they went soft enough to unexpectedly fall out of the muffins when broken in half!

Blackberry muffins

The muffins are, rather surprisingly, pretty tasty. I did complain that they weren’t particularly sweet on my first bite, but then I got some juicy blackberries and all was right with the world again. The texture is very light, which is to be expected when using margarine, yogurt and skimmed milk in place of good ol’ butter, but not in an unpleasant way – far from it, in fact.

All in all, I really like these muffins and would make them again, hopefully with blueberries next time just to see what they’re like with them in. I would recommend these if you too are trying to get rid of some excess weight, but can’t do without cakey delights altogether!

Blackberry muffins

The recipe

Find it on the WeightWatchers site here: http://www.weightwatchers.co.uk/food/rcp/index.aspx?recipeid=7007752