Strawberry & Elderflower Chiffon Cake

Cheesy family photo!
   Like many, I've had my heart set on a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for some time. Forever jealous of those who already own one, I finally decided to 'invest' in my future bakes.

   I ordered my wee little robo-mixer online last night and collected from my local Waitrose this afternoon. It was all loaded up for me in a trolley ready to wheel to the car park. I transfered the royal cargo into the boot of my noddy car and poodled off home dreaming of the chiffon cakes I could now bake, for now I can whip up as many egg whites as I fancy. (Otherwise, I'm just too impatient to whisk 9 egg whites to stiff peaks by hand!)

   Although my recent purchase of American measuring cups has proven helpful when baking from online recipes, I decided that I felt more confident baking something I've not made before in metric. Far too excited to bake and too impatient to convert cups to metric, I was lucky to stumble across a lemon chiffon cake recipe on The Cake Hunter...another Sophie, of course!

   I decided to make a strawberry version, seeing as its 'summer' and Wimbledon fortnight. Inspired by Steph from Riverside Baking's recent bakes with cordial I used strawberry and elderflower cordial to flavour the cake.
Strawberry & Elderflower Chiffon Cake
(Adapted from The Cake Hunter)
     9 large eggs, separated
     375g golden caster sugar
     270ml water (with Bottle Green Strawberry and Elderflower Cordial diluted)
     1 1/2 tsp baking powder
     2 tsp salt
     430g plain flour
     180ml sunflower oil
     zest of 1 lemon
     Fresh fruit to decorate
     Strawberry jam
     Cream cheese frosting

  • Heat the oven to 150 degrees. Grease and line 2 x 9 inch springform cake tins.
  • Beat the eggs whites in a stand mixer until stiff. 
  • Mix together the remaining ingredients in a LARGE mixing bowl (I had very little room to fold in the egg whites in my mixing bowl, oops!)
  • Fold in the egg whites with a large metal spoon.
  • Divide the mixture between the two tins, pouring from a low height to ensure no air is knocked out.
  • Bake for 1 hour, until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and place tins upside down on wire cooling racks for 10 minutes.
  • After, take the cake out the tins and leave to cool completely.
   To make the frosting, I improvised...feeling a little over confident with my new robo-mixer I threw the remnants of a box of icing sugar, a large spoon of margarine and a whole tub of regular Philadelphia into the mixer and gave it a little whizz. Of course, I had to be a little girlie as usual and trickled in a few drops of pink food colouring!

   Once cooled, I sandwiched the cakes together with a layer of strawberry jam and some frosting. To finish, I topped the giant cake with fresh fruit and some gold dust...naturally.
   10 minutes later, the cake started sinking...overconfident was I no more! Half way through baking, I swapped shelves as these giant sized cakes wouldn't fit side by side on the same shelf in my oven. Lesson learnt. 

   I took a slice out and drove it over to Harriet to give her a cakey boost to her busy week. The slice, or wedge, just about managed the giant roundabout between our houses. I got home a further 10 minutes later to find that the middle of the cake had sunk some more, and pink frosting was oozing out.

   Sinking strawberry cake tasted good but never, ever, again will I open the oven door half way through baking! I've also since noticed that I forgot to read the end of Sophie's recipe where it mentions to freeze the cake for 10 minutes before icing to firm up. Doh!

Speculoos Blondies

   Firstly, if you haven't tried Speculoos biscuit spread then you must do so now. Made from caramelised Lotus biscuits and blended to the consistency of peanut butter, Speculoos is ideal spread on toast, in a buttercream for a coffee cake, or just straight from the spoon.

 I'm not overly confident in making brownies after failing miserably in a Leith's baking class but decided to give white chocolate ones a go. I will not let them defeat me! The white chocolate pairs well with the golden goodness of Speculoos making these soft and gooey. Luck was on my side this time and these fellas turned out good!

   I thought by using what was left of my Speculoos jar for these it would stop me taking sneaky spoons straight from the jar...instead I just ate at least half the batch to myself!

Speculoos Blondies
(Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction, makes 16)
     1 cup plain flour
     1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
     1 cupe light brown sugar, packed
     1 large egg
     1 egg yolk
     1 tsp vanilla extract
     1/2 cups Speculoos spread
     1 and 1/4 cups white chocolate chunks

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Line and grease an 8x8 baking tray.
  • In a medium sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of sofa and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir the melted butter and brown sugar together until well combined. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk, then add the vanilla. Stir in the Speculoos spread. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Be careful not to overmix, which will result in crumbly, hard blondies. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the white chocolate chunks.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes. The blondies may appear very soft, but they will set as they cool. Allow them to cool completely - about 3 hours - before cutting into squares.
Usually I'll convert American cups into metric, but as I always find so many good recipes from across the waters I invested in some cup measures to make things a little easier.

Spiced Guinness Cake

   For Father's Day I made my Grandad this loaf cake. As a fan of fruit cake I thought he'd enjoy this as sultanas are soaked in Guinness. The recipe is from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, and asks for light ale, but Guinness works just as well.

Spiced Guinness Cake
(Serves 12)
     350ml light ale/Guinness
     100g sultanas
     2 tbsp honey
     200g dark muscovado sugar
     400g wholemeal flour
     1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
     1 tsp ground cinnamon
     1/2 tsp ground cloves

  • Mix the Guinness with the sultanas and leave for a couple of hours for the fruit to plump up a little and absorb some of the flavour.
  • Heat the oven to 190 degrees. Grease and line the base and sides of a 900g loaf tin leaving a little of the paper above the rim to allow for any rising.
  • Gently warm the honey and add to the Guinness and sultanas along with the sugar, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then pour in the Guinness mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined into a thick batter.
  • Pour the mixture into the tin, spreading it evenly. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin completely before turning out.
This cake can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week.

Orange Dondi Cake

   An orange dondi cake has been at the top of my 'to bake' list for a while. A list that seems to be out of control at the moment.

   My Welsh Grandmother, or Nain as we call her, always used to make this when we'd go and stay with her in Aberystwyth in the school holidays. This cake was served in those afternoon's where my brother, cousins and I were just too hungry to wait for dinner. I guess its the orange equivalent of a lemon drizzle cake, but to me it just seems 100 times better.

Another favourite of Nain's bakes is lemon meringue pie, no one can make it quite the same!

I made this for my Dad, loaf cakes are very easy to carry on the train, tube and take to lunch!

Orange Dondi Cake
     vegetable oil for greasing
     8 oz margarine, melted
     1/2 pint fresh orange juice
     10 oz granulated sugar
     2 eggs
     14 oz self raising flour, sifted

Cake Glaze
     6 rounded tbsp icing sugar
     3 tbsp fresh orange juice

  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a loaf tin with baking paper or a loaf tin liner.
  • In a large bowl, stir in the orange juice and sugar into the melted butter.
  • Beat in the eggs and flour until well combined, I just used a hand whisk for 2 minutes.
  • Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour in the centre of the oven.
  • Whilst the cake is baking, make the glaze by stirring icing sugar into orange juice until a thin paste is formed.
  • Once the cake is cooked, a skewer comes out clean, pour the glaze over the hot cake and leave to cool. 
Once cool the glaze should form an orangey thin crust to the loaf. I think next time, I may add orange zest to the cake batter to enhance the flavour.

This made enough to fill a 2 lb loaf tin and make 6 mini muffins.

Custard Creams & Bourbons

   There's nothing better than a good British biscuit. I can't hide my fondness for a good hot brew and a biscuit to dunk. But then again, who isn't fond of a good dunk?
   I got the best gift ever, biscuit moulds! Clearly someone knows me very well! I tried out the custard cream and bourbon ones this evening but still have jammy dodger ones to try.
Custard Creams
(Makes 16-20 biscuits)
     225g plain flour
     50g custard powder
     30g icing sugar
     175g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
     1/2 tsp vanilla extract
     50g unsalted butter, room temperature
     200g icing sugar
     2 tbsp custard powder

  • Pulse the flour, custard powder and icing sugar in a mixer until well combined.
  • Add in the butter and vanilla extract and continue to pulse until the mixture begins to come together.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge, or until firm.
  • Take a small ball and press into the moulds, turn out onto a lined baking tray.
  • Chill for a further 15 minutes, heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  • To make the filling, beat the butter until soft and creamy, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Slowly incorporate the icing sugar and custard powder and continue to beat until smooth.
  • Once the biscuits are completely cool, use a spoon of the filling to sandwich two biscuits together.
(Makes 16-20 biscuits)

Follow the recipe for custard creams and substitute the custard powder with cocoa powder.

   The bourbons came out of the moulds much easier than the custard creams as the dough was a lot shorter. Perhaps a little tweaking to the recipe is required for optimum mould shaping.