Lavender & Lime Chiffon Cake

   The theme for this month's Epsom Clandestine Cake Club was 'Flower Power' and there's no way I could have guessed where the venue was, it was pretty special!

   But first things first, the cake! I chose to bake a lavender and lime chiffon cake as I had plenty of eggs left from my recent trip to Yorkshire (post here). As far as flower essences go, the only ones I've really come across are rose and lavender. As my last CCC bake used rose water (rose and pistachio bundt), I decided to give lavender a try.

   I've never had anything with lavender in before and worried it'd be too scented. But the lime curd filling and lime buttercream cuts through the floral flavour perfectly. I've been enjoying using the curds that Mackay's sent me, so zesty balanced with just the right amount of sweetness.

   A few other cake clubber's used lavender in their bakes too; lemon and lavender, chocolate and lavender, vodka and lavender.

   Other cakes used lemon and poppyseed or rose. But all were covered in varying flowering decorations.

   A strange coincidence that lavender was such a popular choice because this was our beautiful outdoor venue...
   Mayfield Lavender is a 25 acre lavender field on the North Surrey Downs and is very impressive! We were joined by many a busy bee and also other visitors to the fields offering to buy slices from us. People were impressed that there's such thing as a secret cake club where you get to eat an abundance of home baked treats. 

Lavender and Lime Chiffon Cake
(Recipe adapted from Technicolor Kitchen)
     6 eggs, separated
     60ml sunflower oil
     6 tablespoons water
     300g caster sugar
     2 teaspoons lavender extract
     187g plain flour, sifted
     1 teaspoon baking powder
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
     1/2 jar Mackay's lime curd
     140g unsalted butter, softened
     450g icing sugar
     1 tablespoon lime juice
     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line the bottoms of three 8 inch round cake tins with baking paper, do not grease.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, oil and water and set aside.
  • Place 200g of the sugar, the lavender, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and gently combine. Add the yolk mixture and whisk to form a smooth batter.
  • Place the egg whites in a large bowl in a stand mixer and beat on a medium-high speed until frothy. slowly add the remaining 100g of sugar and the cream of tartar and continue to whip until soft, droopy peaks form. 
  • Fold 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the batter, taking care not to deflate the mixture. Gently fold in the remaining eggs whites.
  • Divide the batter between the three tins and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden and a cake tester comes out cleanly from the centre/
  • Allow the layers to cool completely in the pans. To remove, run a blunt knife around the edges, invert each pan and tap out the cake onto a wire rack. Carefully peel off the paper.
  • Leave the cakes wrapped in cling film overnight to firm before sandwiching with a generous helping of lime curd.
  • For the butter cream, beat the butter until smooth before adding the icing sugar, lime and vanilla. Continue beating until smooth and creamy.
  • Start with 1/3 of the buttercream and cover the cake with a palette knife to form a crumb coat. Refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes before covering the cake with the remains. Decorate with fresh flowers and glitter.

   If you fancied reading our Clandestine Cake Club write up by Andrew then you can find it here.
Or Becky's blog has a cheeky picture of Harriet and myself having a good old cakey chat, here.

A little trip to Yorkshire

   A little bit of a different post today. I haven't been away for a while so was very excited to spend a few days in Yorkshire and as there was lots of eating, I thought I'd share a few pictures.
   On arrival I was happy to find that our room had a comfy little window snug overlooking Bay Tree Farm. I got very used to afternoon tea in this spot. And rather than overseeing traffic for my day job, I enjoyed observing the horse movements clip clopping down the road. Much more civilised!
      The farm is located near the grounds of Fountains Abbey. When they say 'a great day out' on their website, they really mean it. It took a good 90 minutes to walk (the long way round) from the farm to one of the southern gates of the abbey's grounds. The overgrown grass and bugs eating my legs alive didn't help so much.
   On the next day we paid Betty a little visit in Harrogate...and in York of course! I even got myself a fat little rascal to takeaway as an evening snack. Definitely will have to try making some myself now.
   There were lots of views to be seen and pictures to be taken in Grassington. I attempted to get too close to a sheep for a close up photo, before realising a walker was laughing at me...said sheep was 'using the bathroom'.
   He looked convincingly innocent!
   No trip 'up North' is complete without pie. I chose Skipton Pie and Mash Shop's Homity pie. I also chose a selection of pork pies to bring back for my Grandad from J. Stanforth's.
   In attempts to walk off all the pie and mash we drove towards the dales to Bolton Abbey. Thankfully I managed to keep my snazzy new trainers dry on the stepping stones. The children's activity trail through the woods was quite exhausting so I made an executive decision to stop for an energy top up before making the return journey...
   Two scoops of honeycomb and caramel please!
   And now I'm home, rested and ready to do some baking and perhaps thinking about going back to work on Monday!

   I can't recommend Bay Tree Farm enough, Val was very welcoming and kindly sent me home with a dozen eggs from happy countryside eggs for baking. Thank you!

Mini Coconut and Lime Curd Cakes

   What better way to start seven days off than a birthday weekend! Not my birthday, but Mother Loves Food's. On Friday afternoon I pushed my way through the sweaty train crowds with flowers and baking supplies for the weekend.

   First up was a Limoncello cake from Peggy Porschen's Boutique Baking book. I seem to struggle with aesthetics when baking anything from this book. Maybe its the fact that everything in there is just so beautiful, its a little daunting! That and the fact that most recipes in there require three same sized sandwich tins, which I do not own. I never learn that throwing it in one big tin doesn't work quite the same.

   The result, an inch high cake. It did have a good rise for the extremely wide tin I put it in but not the impressive towering oozy boozy lemon cake I'd envisaged. Instead, I carefully filled it with some lemon curd and Limoncello buttercream and drizzled with more Limoncello and a sprinkling of gold stars.

   Next up were these little lime cakes baked for my mum to take into her work tomorrow. Of course I sneaked one to test, especially after overheating in a hot kitchen in this heatwave. I was so excited to try my new baking tray for mini square cakes from Lakeland, the perfect individual size servings and the cakes slipped out with very little encouragement. I always worry when not using cake liners.

   Each little square lime cake is filled with Mackays lime curd and topped with coconut soaked in lime juice. With a little help of some icing sugar, the curd has the perfect sweetness to cut through all the lime. 
Mini coconut and lime curd cakes
(Makes 24)
     250g unsalted butter, softened
     250g caster sugar
     4 large eggs
     2 teaspoons vanilla extract
     zest of 2 limes
     250g self raising flour, sifted
     drop of milk
     half jar Mackays lime curd
     juice and zest of 1 lime
     3 tablespoons desicated coconut
     3 tablespoons icing sugar
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease two mini cake trays.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl beat the eggs. Add a tablespoon at a time to the butter mix, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the lime zest and vanilla extract and gently stir to incorporate.
  • Fold in the flour with a large metal spoon until the mixture just comes together.
  • Fill the baking trays a quarter of the way up, about 1 tablespoon per cake, before adding a teaspoon of lime curd to each and topping with the rest of the cake mixture.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and the cakes start to come away from the sides of the tray.
  • Leave to cool in the tray for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, whisk together the icing sugar, lime juice and coconut and spoon onto each cake once cooled. To finish, top with a sprinkling of lime zest.

Strawberry & Champagne Duffins

   I find Twitter to be one of the most useful blogging enablers. I get the sense of being in a little baking community where I can quite easily while away an hour or so chatting, exchanging tips and inspiration. But mainly, drooling over everyone's latest bakes that help to add to a never ending 'to-bake' list and an ever expanding bookmarks folder on my phone.

   So when I saw a tweet from the lovely people at Mackays asking for some bakers to join them and get baking with jam, I couldn't wait to join in. After an email suggesting a few ideas, a lovely stash of jams and curds arrived on my doorstep the very next day. At the very top of my 'to-bake' list was Duffins. One of those hybrid style bakes that people rave about. And because they sell them at my favourite cake place, I just had to give them a go.

   And now I know exactly why people rave about them. These are quite possibly the best things I have ever baked. Ever. I baked them last night and filled them this morning to take into the office but I'm already plotting alternative filling combinations. Custard and lemon curd. Apple and ginger. Lime and chocolate.

   I'm a little bit of a jam doughnut fiend. A popular choice for office birthday celebrations and also a reminder of eating them as a little person at my grandparent's. These Duffins, in case you didn't know, are a hybrid of a jam doughnut and a muffin. And because Mackays make an awesome strawberry and champagne preserve, they're just that little bit fancier!
Strawberry & Champagne Duffins
(Makes 22, recipe from Afternoon Tea with Bea)
     420g plain flour
     4tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
     330g caster sugar
     2 eggs, lightly beaten
     375ml sour cream/buttermilk
     2tsp vanilla extract
     130ml sunflower oil
Coating & dipping
     250g unsalted butter, melted
     300g caster sugar
     1/2 jar of Mackays Strawberry preserve with champagne
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease two 12 hole muffin trays.
  • Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Add all the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Don't overmix.
  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray, filling them three quarters of the way up.
  • Bake for 22-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Whilst the Duffins are baking, put the melted butter and sugar in their own shallow bowls and set aside.
  • Once ready, remove the Duffins from the oven and tip out.
  • Immediately dip the muffins in the melted butter, then roll in the sugar to liberally and evenly coat.
  • Fill a piping bag with jam. Push the nozzle/tip through the top (or bottom if you want it to look neater) of the doughnut, up to midway. Pipe about 1 tbsp of jam inside each doughnut.
   I'm now left with one it acceptable to have only champagne preserves from now on? To follow other jammy bakes, keep an eye on #bakingwithmackays