Squidgy chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting
David Lebovitz once said that the best thing about being a pastry chef is that your kitchen colleagues have to be nice to you 364 days a year. Why? Because on the 365th they want you to bake them a birthday cake. While I’m no pastry chef and have never worked in a commercial kitchen, when it comes to baking cakes for friends, I know exactly where he’s coming from.
One of the things I love most about baking is being able to share what I make with those around me. A cake can be a talking point, a celebration in itself and (for me anyway) often a better way of expressing love for the person in question than any other present might be. Birthday cakes are particularly personal, the one opportunity each year to take centre stage, to call the shots, to cut yourself the biggest slice, eat seconds and thirds and lick off extra icing if you should so choose (not, of course, that I’d ever do something like that . . .) Continue reading
Individual nutty sponge cakes smothered in salted caramel sauce
How to turn a cupcake into something just that little bit more special.
- Bake it straight into a non-stick muffin pan for contrast between the outer edge and fluffy middle
- Cram it full of crunchy pecans, fiery ginger, a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of cider
- Smother it in sticky caramel sauce, lifted with a generous sprinkle of sea salt
- Give it the dignity of calling it a little cake, not a cupcake
Rich chocolate sponge, condensed milk & whiskey buttercream, chocolate ganache
We’ve just got back from two days in the beautiful county of Rutland celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday. With the recent bout of unexpected and unseasonally warm weather, he couldn’t have picked a better weekend for us to spend outside and out of London (or Leeds, where he lives), enjoying each others’ company, soaking up some sunshine and drinking in the country air.
I don’t really need to tell you that I offered to bring a birthday cake. That goes without saying and is pretty much what you’ve been waiting for, right? Continue reading
Chocolate peanut butter mousse layered with chewy peanut meringue
Chocolate mousse. Two words, a hundred variations, a thousand different expectations.
Ever since I made this favourite little dessert on holiday in Italy, I’ve wanted to write about it on the blog. My usual recipe for chocolate mousse is simplicity itself, rich and elegant, steeped in childhood memories and consisting of just two ingredients: chocolate and eggs. It’s the ultimate store cupboard recipe (don’t tell me you’ve not got chocolate on your shelves, I don’t believe you), and involves minimum effort for maximum impact, making it an easy go-to recipe to have in your repertoire.
Perhaps a little too easy. Continue reading
A simple cupcake with a hidden core of refreshing cucumber jam
There are few things more British than a cucumber sandwich. Simple and delicate (and delicious when made properly – think paper-thin cucumber, salty butter, soft white bread), this recipe of aristocratic origin is made all the better for being absolutely unnecessary. Traditionally served at tea-time (our way of justifying the indulgence of an additional mid-afternoon meal involving a lot of cake) they have next to no nutritional value, being probably the only sandwich in the world over which I wouldn’t shed a tear to see the crusts removed. But they are a delicious nonetheless, especially when accompanied by freshly-baked scones a glass of cold champagne. Continue reading
The dense, damp, syrupy crumb makes this cake utterly irresistible
This might just be one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten.
Those of you who read this blog on regular basis will know that this is not a comment to be taken lightly. I love cake. I eat it a lot. I live and breathe baking. On our recent holiday in Italy in a round of Articulate the clue ‘Kate loves this’ resulted in an immediate and resounding chorus of ‘cake’, and change one letter in my name and I’d practically be named after the stuff. Cake is very important to me.
Pretty much every year I make my own birthday cake. Before you start feeling sorry for me, it’s absolutely out of choice. I love doing it; the magic of mixing together ingredients, transforming flour, butter and sugar into something that looks and tastes delicious, experimenting in the kitchen, sharing my birthday joy with friends and family and condensing it into a single slice.
Moist chocolate cake layered with rich malted chocolate buttercream
One of the questions I’m most often asked about this blog is where I get my love of food and baking from. My first point of reference is almost always my parents – a childhood where helping my Mum out in the kitchen and making my own birthday cakes was the norm, every summer spent in Italy amongst an abundance of incredible produce and a father whose eyes are a whole lot smaller than the stomach which unfortunately reflects his infectious love of food (sorry Dad!). Continue reading
Fresh, bright & full of flavour – the perfect spring dessert
When was the last time someone responded badly to something you’d made?
In the kitchen, I tend to be my own worst critic. Although I enjoy cooking all sorts of savoury dishes, I definitely get the most joy out of baking and making desserts. And one major bonus that comes with being a baker is that your creations are almost always met with a rapturous response. While I’ll worry that something hasn’t turned out quite perfect, that the top is too brown or the middle less moist than I’d hoped, most of the time people have nothing but praise to impart when handed something sweet.
Maybe it’s an inherent insecurity which means I thrive on this praise, or perhaps conversely it’s some sort of overblown ego which makes me enjoy the eager eyes, nods of appreciation, squeals of pleasure and silent smiles of satisfaction, but the reaction of my friends and family to the treats I make brings me at least as much happiness as the actual processes of both baking and eating. Continue reading
Dense, dark chocolate orange mousse cake topped with a spiced white chocolate layer
Chocolate is one of my favourite ingredients to bake with. Whether it’s chunked and studded through cookies, stirred into the smoothest mousse, melted over ice cream or baked into a dense, fudgy cake, chocolate is an ingredient reliable enough to be called on for comfort, yet versatile enough to always be exciting.
While chocolate and cocoa regularly make an appearance in my shopping basket, it’s rare that I’ll buy a bar to simply eat on its own. It’s not that I don’t like it, but I really enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and combining chocolate with other ingredients, making it into more of a meal or occasion than a snack straight from the packet. However there are two major exceptions to this rule when I (and a pretty a large percentage of the UK population) can’t seem to help but over indulge: Christmas and Easter. Continue reading
Sponge fingers encase creamy layers of tiramisu topped with fresh raspberries
‘Some woman is going to want me to do it to her, and I’m not going to know what it is.’
‘You’ll love it.’
20 years ago, the world was a very different place. In lots of ways, of course, but this particular scene from Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks’ character is about to embark on the dating scene again shows just how much our knowledge of different types of food has changed since 1993. To even be able to contemplate including such a joke in the script, the screenwriter would have had to be pretty comfortable that plenty of people didn’t know what tiramisu was; that for every person laughing at Hanks’ clueless comment, another one would be scratching their head and wondering what this unusual aphrodisiac might be. With 5.3 million pages returning on the search term ‘tiramisu’ on UK Google alone today, that hardly seems possible now. Continue reading