Lemon and elderflower cake

Two layers of zingy lemon sponge, sandwiched together with lemon curd and elderflower buttercream. Finished with a scatter of edible flowers, and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Tastes just as good as it looks!

The thin coating of buttercream on the sides is called a ‘semi-naked cake’. There’s a minimal amount of buttercream swiped around the sides, to show off the cakes’ natural texture and filling. It looks really effective and is great if you aren’t a perfectionist as it’s not meant to be neat. There’s no need to crumb-coat, chill, frost, repeat, which also helps save time.

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Ingredients

For the cake:

200g unsalted butter or Stork tub
200g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
Zest of 2 lemons
1-2 tablespoons milk

For the filling:

2 tablespoons homemade or shop-bought lemon curd
250g unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
500g icing sugar
2 tablespoons elderflower cordial

To decorate:

Edible flower blossoms (I bought mine from Sainsbury’s)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line two 8inch round baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Beat the sugar and butter together until light and creamy. Add one egg at a time, along with a little flour, and mix together. Add the remaining flour and lemon zest and fold together until fully mixed.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins, and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the cakes have turned a golden colour and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Once the cake is cooled, make your elderflower buttercream by first beating the butter with an electric whisk until soft. Sift in half the icing sugar and beat together until smooth. Sift in the remaining icing sugar, add the elderflower cordial and beat again until you have a smooth buttercream.

To decorate

Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place one cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable or serving plate. Using an icing spatular, spread a layer of buttercream evenly on top. Drizzle over the lemon curd.

Top with the second cake layer and spread the remaining buttercream on top and all around the sides. Using a flat knife or an icing scraper, smooth out the buttercream on the sides of the cake. This should be rough and the sides of the cake should show through. Finish by decorating with flower blossoms.

Banana and Nutella swirl loaf cake

When life gives you brown bananas, make banana bread! But this time add a swirl of Nutella for a super delicious twist on a classic bake. This banana and Nutella loaf cake is light and moist, and the added swirl of gooey Nutella makes it truly irresistible. There won’t be a single crumb left! Plus it’s so easy to make. You’ll only need a few simple ingredients and it can be prepped, baked and ready to eat in less than an hour.

Banana and nutella loaf cake

Ingredients (makes a 2lb loaf cake)

150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
170g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ripe medium-sized bananas
1 tablespoon milk
4 tablespoons Nutella

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 2lb loaf tin with grease proof paper or a loaf cake liner.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Crack in the eggs, add half of the flour and mix until combined. Fold in the remaining flour and baking powder until you have a smooth mixture.

In a separate bowl mash the bananas until no lumps remain. Fold the mashed banana and milk into the mixture.

In a separate microwave-safe bowl add 4 tablespoons of Nutella. Melt in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Transfer half the cake mixture into the loaf in and spread it out evenly. Pour half of the melted Nutella down the middle of the cake. Top with the remaining cake mixture. Dollop spoonfuls of the remaining Nutella on top and use a skewer to swirl everything together.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes. The cake should have browned on top and a toothpick instead in the middle should come out clean or with a few crumbs on it. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the baking tin.

Lemon drizzle and almond loaf cake

I love lemon drizzle cake, it’s a classic, but sometimes I find that the texture can be dry and well for a lemon drizzle cake there simply isn’t enough lemon! So I set myself the challenge of creating a lemon drizzle recipe that is still super easy to make, only requires a few ingredients but packs a punch in flavour and texture.

The recipe only uses one lemon, but it makes the most of it. Lemon zest in the sponge, lemon juice drizzled throughout the cooked warm sponge, and lemon juice mixed into the icing. The perfect balance between sweet and sour. The secret ingredient for the texture is ground almonds. They are a great substitute for flour, and with a high fat content due to their natural oils, they give this cake a lovely tender, moist texture.

Lemon drizzle and almond loaf cake

Ingredients

For the cake:
200g golden caster sugar
200g unsalted butter
3 large eggs, at room temperature
50g self-raising flour
150g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon

For the icing:
8 tbsp icing sugar
Pretty edible decorations (gold stars, sprinkles, glitter)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350 F. Line a 2lb loaf tin with grease proof paper – I use a single sheet a parchment, exactly the same length as the tin, so that it covers the bottom and the two longest sides.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light, fluffy and almost white in colour. Mix in the eggs one at a time, along with a little flour each time to stop the mixture from curdling.

Add in the remaining flour, ground almonds, baking powder, vanilla extract and the zest from the lemon (reserve the juice for later) and fold together until fully mixed.

Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Using a toothpick or a skewer, poke holes all over the top. Squeeze over the juice from half the lemon and leave the cake to cool.

Once the cake is cool, mix together the icing sugar and juice from the other half of the lemon until you have a thick but pourable consistency. If the mixture is too thick add 1-2 teaspoons of water.

Pour the icing over the cake and sprinkle over with your favourite decorations.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Have a look at this….

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…these are the hundreds of left over chocolate eggs after our Easter Egg hunt last weekend! And, this was after we had overloaded as many as possible to family/friends/friends of friends/friends of friends of friends! So I was sat staring at the bowl thinking ‘I can’t possibly eat any more chocolate’ and began daydreaming of chocolate recipes.

And so I present to you two layers of rich, moist chocolate fudge cake sandwiched together with creamy milk chocolate frosting (tastes like Milkyway!) and decorated with chocolate shards. For me the chocolate sponge is the star of the show, it’s super indulgent, rich and moist.

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Ingredients (makes 1 large cake)

For the cake:
250g self-raising flour
400g caster sugar
88g unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
250ml semi-skimmed milk
250ml boiling water
2 large eggs
110ml sunflower oil

For the milk chocolate buttercream:
170g milk chocolate, chopped into chunks
85g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
312g icing sugar
2 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk, to loosen

For the decoration:
Milk/dark/white chocolate (I used left-over Easter eggs!)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by first spraying with baking spray or brushing with butter and then lining with greaseproof paper (see below for instructions).

Start by making the cake.

Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and espresso powder to a large bowl. Use a whisk to mix the ingredients until they are well combined.

Now add the milk, sunflower oil, eggs and vanilla extract to the bowl and use an electric whisk set to a medium speed to mix all ingredients together until well combined.

Reduce the speed and carefully add the boiling water bit by bit. Don’t worry if the mixture looks very runny, once baked the cake will be super fudgy and moist. Finally, beat on a high speed for 1 minute to add air to the mixture (little bubbles should start to form on top!).

Distribute the cake mixture evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to completely cool.

Once the cakes are cool remove them from the tins and begin making your buttercream.

Melt the dark and milk chocolate together in the microwave, 20 seconds at at time stirring in between blasts, until smooth.

In a separate bowl beat together the butter and icing sugar with a wooden spoon/electric whisk until fluffy and smooth. Now fold in the melted chocolate until fully incorporated. If the buttercream is starting to feel a little stiff, add a tablespoon of milk at a time and mix into the buttercream to loosen it.

Take one layer of your cake and place it on a serving plate. Spread a thick even layer of buttercream on top and then place the second cake layer on top upside down. Now spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake and place in the fridge for 30min-1hour to set*.

Once set, spread the remaining buttercream across the top and sides of the cake and use an icing palette or blunt knife edge to give a smooth finish. Finally, break up the decoration chocolate into shards and decorate the top of the cake by pushing them into the icing.

*This is called a crumb coat and is meant to be messy, so don’t worry about being too perfect as it will just act as a smooth base for the next layer of buttercream. 

Spooky Spiderweb Chocolate Cake

Halloween is a great time to be adventurous with your bakes and this Spider-web cake is the perfect recipe to get you started.

Three layers of rich, moist chocolate cake, coated with buttercream and a dark chocolate ganache, decorated with a white chocolate spider-web.

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This cake may look complex but once broken down it’s actually pretty easy.

Start with the sponge. This recipe substitutes butter for sunflower oil and milk and adds a little golden syrup to lock in moisture and create a dense and fudgy texture. I’ve decided on three layers, as personally I think the taller the better! However, if you would prefer two layers it is possible to use larger cakes tins and adjust the baking time.

Next, the buttercream. This is simply butter and icing sugar beaten together with a few drops of orange colouring to add extra spookiness. Use as little or as much colouring until the desired colour is reached.

For the milk chocolate ganache, heat the cream until almost boiling, pour over the chocolate, stir and let sit. Now for the fun part, pour all over the cake to get that dripping effect.

Finally the spiderweb, honestly who ever thought of this idea is a genius. It really couldn’t be easier. Just pipe a spiral of white chocolate on top of the cake, drag a skewer through the pattern, middle to edge, at regular intervals and there you have it, a perfect spiderweb design.

Ingredients

For the sponge:

350g self-raising flour
4 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
300g caster sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
300 ml (1/4 pint) sunflower oil
300 ml (1/4 pint) semi-skimmed milk
4 tablespoons golden syrup

For the orange buttercream:

300g unsalted butter, softened
600g icing sugar
Orange food colouring (I would recommend gel pastes over liquid)
1-2 tablespoons milk

For the milk chocolate ganache

50g whipping cream
100g milk chocolate

For the spider web decoration:

50g white chocolate, broken into pieces

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line three 8inch round cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Sieve the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix together. Make a well in the centre and add the syrup, eggs, oil and milk. Beat well with an electric whisk until smooth.

Divide the mixture evenly between the three tins, giving it a shake to level out the top. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until risen, firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave to cool before turning out onto a cooling rack.

To make the buttercream: In a medium bowl beat the butter until soft and light in colour. Sieve half of the icing sugar into the bowl and mix together until smooth. Repeat with the remaining icing sugar. Add drops of orange food colouring and mix through (repeat until the desired colour is reached). If the buttercream feels too stiff beat 1-2 tbsp milk in the mixture.

To assemble the cake: Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with buttercream. Repeat with the remaining two layers, stacking them as you go. Spread the remaining buttercream all over the top of cake and sides of the cake.

To make the chocolate ganache: Chop the milk chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring until it has nearly reached boiling point. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth and completely melted. Let the ganache sit for 5 minutes in the fridge to thicken up slightly. Now pour the ganache over the top of the cake, smoothing it out with a knife and letting it drip down the sides.

To make the spider web decoration: Melt the white chocolate in 10 second blasts in the microwave until smooth, then transfer to a small piping bag fitted with a very small circular nozzle. Starting from the middle of the cake, pipe a spiral on top of the ganache in one smooth movement. Now use a skewer to drag through the circles at regular intervals, from the centre to the edge, to create a cobweb effect.