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).
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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.

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.

First bake: raspberry and blueberry muffins

Raspberry and blueberry muffins 2I had a big pile of berries in the fridge and a decision to make over what to bake for the weekly charity cake sale at work last week, so I eventually settled on experimenting with some raspberry and blueberry muffins using a much-loved recipe for triple chocolate chunk muffins.

Raspberry and blueberry muffin mix

Raspberry and blueberry muffin mix

I chose this recipe as it’s a surefire winner – it uses soured cream to create a wonderfully soft texture and is really easy to whip up. I pretty much just replaced the chocolate with the berries and added more sugar to compensate for the lack of white/milk chocolate.

Raspberry and blueberry muffinsThe muffins came out wonderfully considering it was an experiment – fruity, sweet and beautifully soft. The one problem is that any leftover muffins go soft very quickly due to the moisture in the cooked fruit, so make sure you eat them all within a day!

I made some savoury courgette and mozzarella muffins to sell too, but (somewhat predictably) the sweet muffins were more popular than the savoury!

Raspberry and blueberry muffins and courgette and mozzarella muffins

Raspberry and blueberry muffins (left) and courgette and mozzarella muffins (right)

The recipe

Makes 12 muffins

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g raspberries
  • 100g blueberries
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 284ml soured cream
  • 170g light muscovado sugar
  • 85g melted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Butter a 12-hole muffin tin or line with paper cases.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and fruit.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, soured cream, butter and sugar.
  4. Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir until just combined and the mixture is fairly stiff, but avoid overmixing.
  5. Spoon the mix into the muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes until well risen.
  6. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes before removing and cooling the muffins on a wire rack.

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

First bake: raspberry and lemon layer cake

Raspberry and lemon layer cakeIt was my turn to bake for the office last week, and after asking around I gathered that a Proper Cake, preferably with a summery theme, would be most welcome. I settled on a Delia recipe for raspberry cake, slightly tweaked to incorporate a lemon-flavoured filling – surely the embodiment of summer?!

Raspberry and lemon layer cake filling

Raspberry and lemon layer cake filling

It might have had fresh fruit in it, but this was by no means a healthy cake – the light sponge layers were sandwiched with the help of a thick layer of raspberry jam and a massive dollop of double cream, mascarpone, icing sugar and lemon curd. Unnnnngggghhh.

Raspberry and lemon layer cakeI changed Delia’s recipe because I didn’t have any fromage frais for her filling, and also because I was really keen to get some lemon in there – I also added some lemon zest to the sponge.

Overall, this was a rather successful cake that attracted quite a few compliments from my colleagues. The filling really is very rich, so if you’re a bit worried about that you could just halve it, or replace the double cream and/or mascarpone with low fat creme fraiche instead.

Raspberry and lemon layer cakeThe recipe

Adapted from this Delia recipe.

For the sponge:

  • 6oz/175 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 oz/175 g caster sugar
  • 6 oz/175 g butter, very soft
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon

For the filling:

  • 8 oz/225 g raspberries
  • 3-4 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 150ml double cream
  •  2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp lemon curd

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas 3/170C. Grease and line two 20 cm sandwich tins.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the eggs, caster sugar, butter, vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat well until combined, either by hand or with an electric whisk. The resulting mixture should easily fall off a spoon – if it doesn’t, add a tiny bit of water and beat again.

3. Split the mix between the two tin, level the top and bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.

4. Beat together the mascarpone, double cream, icing sugar and lemon curd until well combined. Set aside.

5. Spread one of the cooled sponges with a layer of jam, then half of the cream filling. Press the raspberries into this, top with the remaining cream and place the other sponge on top, gently pressing down. Dust the top with icing sugar and serve.

First bake: coconut and raspberry cheesecake

Coconut and raspberry cheesecake

I’ve been meaning to try this recipe ever since I saw it on the excellent Caked Crusader blog a few weeks ago; you’re probably familiar with my love of coconut by now, and I can’t resist a cheesecake! It’s a good recipe to do if you’re oven-phobic, as it simply has to set in the fridge. Well, it’s simple for some, I think – but it wasn’t for me!

Things started off fairly well. The base (I used digestives) was fine and I rather messily mixed all the extremely healthy ingredients for the rest. I used 300g of raspberries rather than 400g, simply because Aldi sold them in 150g packs. I also coated the raspberries in flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom like it did for the Caked Crusader, which seemed to work. The main difference for me, though, was having to use vegetarian gelatine instead of the pork-derived stuff. I couldn’t find it in leaf form, so settled for a powder product called Vege-Gel, by Dr Oetker.

Unfortunately, something went a bit wrong. I’m not sure if I mixed in the gelatine wrongly, or if the powder itself wasn’t very good, but the cheesecake didn’t entirely set. I left it in the fridge for nearly 24 hours, and when I took it out I gave it a shake to make sure it had set. It didn’t wobble at all, so I confidently took the cake tin ring off it to take a photo – and quickly had to put it back on again! It seemed to have set on the outside, but not in the middle, causing it to collapse (you can see the beginnings of this in the pic above).

I ended up having to scrape the whole lot into a big tupperware box, because the plate wasn’t big or deep enough to cope with a wholesale collapse. We’ve been eating it in bowlfuls, and it does taste extremely lovely (fairly rich, with a hint of coconut and the welcome tartness of the raspberries), but it did end up being cheesecake slop, which was slightly disappointing!

I don’t think I’ll be able to try this again until I find a decent vegetarian substitute for pork gelatine, but I’m glad I gave it a go despite the disastrous results!

The recipe

From the Caked Crusader blog here: http://thecakedcrusader.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/coconut-and-raspberry-set-cheesecake.html