food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘cake

sultana and sour cherry fruitcake

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Almost all fruit, this simple one-bowl cake has a nice tartness and a good hit of rum.

Preheat your oven to 160ºC (320ºF) and line a 22cm (8″) tin with baking paper. Measure 500g (17½ oz) of sultanas and 250g (8¾ oz) of sour dried cherries into a mixing bowl. Gently heat ⅓ of a cup of good dark rum and pour it over the fruit. Stir well, making sure all the fruit is moistened. Add 125g of melted butter, ½ a cup of dark brown sugar and 2 eggs to the bowl and stir to combine. Lastly, to bind the fruit, add 1 cup of plain flour and ½ a teaspoon of baking powder. Mix well and transfer into the prepared tin, spreading evenly. Bake for 1½ hours or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cover the tin and allow to cool.



Written by michelle picker

March 7, 2018 at 12:56 am

coconut and pineapple upside down cake

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Wonderfully caramelised ripe pineapple crowns this coconut cake.

Preheat your oven to 175ºC (350ºF) and grease a 20cm (8″) round, deep-sided cake tin. Peel and slice half a very ripe pineapple into thin slices. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large pan over medium-high heat and cook the pineapple slices for 3 minutes on each side or until lightly caramelised. Arrange them in the base of the prepared cake tin, overlapping them so no gap remains. In a bowl beat 200g (7 oz) of butter and 150g (5¼ oz) of sugar until fluffy and pale. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time, then add 200g (7 oz) of plain flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 45g (1½ oz) of desiccated coconut, 1 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and ½ a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix to combine well. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin over the pineapple and bake for 50 minutes or until the cake tests clean. Cool in the tin before turning out.

* Adapted from a Jill Dupleix recipe on

Written by michelle picker

August 13, 2017 at 5:25 am

hazelnut cake

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Italian in style and dotted with pieces of dark chocolate this cake is glazed with an apricot jam. Perfect for afternoon tea!


Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease a spring-form cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper. In the mixer, cream 100g (3½ oz) of butter and ¾ of a cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Incorporate 4 eggs (one at a time), ¼ of a cup of olive oil, and 2 teaspoons of orange zest. Beat for a couple of minutes. Whisk or sift together 1½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and (if you haven’t used salted butter) ¼ of a teaspoon of salt. On low speed, incorporate the flour mixture in a few batches. Fold in 100g (3½ oz) of ground hazelnuts and 85g (3 oz) of roughly chopped dark chocolate by hand. Bake for 45 minutes or until the cake tests clean. Cool in the pan. When completely cooled, remove from the cake tin and spread with apricot jam. Serve with cream.


Written by michelle picker

December 24, 2016 at 5:49 am

chocolate babka

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A traditional Eastern European Jewish cake, Babka or Kranz is a cinnamon and/or chocolate-filled, doubled and twisted length of yeast dough typically baked in a high loaf pan. David Lebovitz had already adapted a recipe which I used, although instead of being visible on top my layers of chocolate are hidden inside.


For the Babka dough mix 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast, ½ a cup of slightly warm milk, 1 teaspoon of sugar and ½ a cup of plain flour. Allow this mixture to sit until it forms bubbles. In a stand mixer (or by hand) blend in 90g (3 oz) of cubed room-temperature butter bit by bit, then 1 large egg, ¼ of a teaspoon of salt (unless your butter was salted) and another 1½ cups of flour. When the dough is smooth, cover and chill it for up to 6 hours. If the weather is cool this step may not be necessary. While the dough is resting make the chocolate filling. In a saucepan melt 100g (3½ oz) of cubed butter and stir in ¾ of a cup of sugar. Remove from the heat and add 80g (3 oz) of dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids). Stir the mixture and when the chocolate has melted add 5 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Set this mixture aside for assembly. Now prepare ½ a cup each of roughly chopped nuts (I chose almonds) and crumbled soft chocolate cookies. When the dough has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle measuring approximately 50 x 30cm (20″ x 12″). Spread the prepared chocolate mix over the entire dough and sprinkle the nuts and cookie pieces over the chocolate. Roll the dough to make a long sausage shape then cut this in half lengthways so that you have 2 long pieces. Now, keeping the cut side facing up, twist the two halves over each other. Grease a loaf tin and line it with baking paper. Carefully lift the twisted dough into the loaf pan either allowing the two ends to fold underneath or on top. Press it into the loaf tin and place it somewhere warm, covered with a fresh tea towel. Allow the babka to almost double in size – this will take at least 2 hours. Meanwhile make a syrup by combining ½ a cup of sugar, ½ a cup of water and 1 tablespoon of honey. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Set aside. When the babka is ready, preheat your oven to 190ºC (375ºF). Bake the babka for 30 minutes or until it tests clean. Remove it from the oven and spoon the syrup over the top. Allow it to cool completely before lifting out of the tin or slicing as it will break when warm.



Written by michelle picker

November 18, 2016 at 5:38 am

hazelnut caramel cake

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This nutty, not too sweet and very delicious cake is from a Dan Lepard recipe. The flavour of the hazelnuts is enhanced by the subtle addition of cocoa.


Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and butter two 18cm (7″) baking tins, lining the bases with baking paper. Beat 175g (6⅛ oz) of softened butter with 100g (3½ oz) of light brown sugar and 200g of tinned caramelised sweetened condensed milk (sold either as caramel topping or dulce de leche). When this mixture is smooth beat in 2 large eggs, one at a time, followed by 100g (3½ oz) of ground hazelnuts. Sift 175g (6⅛ oz) of flour with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons of baking powder and beat this through. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Meanwhile, beat 50g (1¾ oz) of butter with 150g (5¼ oz) of tinned caramel until smooth. Blend in 150g (5¼ oz) of sifted icing sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until you have a smooth icing. When the cakes are cool spread half of the icing between the layers and the rest on top. Scatter roasted hazelnuts over the top.


Written by michelle picker

October 13, 2016 at 5:42 am

esterházy schnitte

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For my Austrian father on the occasion of his 96th birthday, I decided to make him this slice. Named after Prince Paul III Anton Esterházy de Galántha (1786–1866), a diplomat of the Austrian Empire, it was invented in Budapest in the late 19th century and became one of the most famous cakes in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.


There are a few steps involved in making this slice. First the meringue. Line a jelly-­roll pan with baking paper and preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Combine 60g (2 0z) of ground almond meal, 70g (2½ oz) of hazelnut meal and ¼ of a cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar and set aside. Beat 5 large egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add ⅔ of a cup of white sugar and continue to beat until glossy. Fold in the nut mixture then spread the batter onto the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool. For the filling combine ¼ of a cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add another ¾ of a cup of milk and 2 large egg yolks. Heat gently while constantly whisking until the mixture is quite thick. Remove from the heat and transfer to another bowl and allow to cool until almost cold. While whisking (an electric mixer is good here), add small pieces of room temperature butter incorporating them one at a time until you have added ¾ of a cup of butter. Add 6 teaspoons of kirsch and mix well. For the glaze combine 1 cup of sifted confectioners sugar with 2 teaspoons of glucose or corn syrup and 5 teaspoons of hot water. Heat just until everything is well combined. To assemble cut the cake into 5 equal pieces. Lay the best piece down, spread with some apricot jam and then the glaze. To the remaining glaze add some dark chocolate and use this to make a pattern on the white glaze. Traditionally, this would be lines with a skewer pulled through them but I chose to go wild. Set this layer aside. Now lay down another piece and spread with approximately 3 tablespoons of buttercream. Lay a second piece on top and repeat until you have used the last piece. Finally lay the iced piece on top and spread the remaining buttercream around the outside edges. Toast some flaked almonds and press them into the sides. Chill for at least one hour before serving.


*adapted from this recipe on

Written by michelle picker

September 25, 2016 at 5:50 am

spiced bundt cake

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I’ve been looking forward to using my new cake tin and this recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan in Bon Appétit seemed perfect. Maybe a lower temperature next time…


In a bowl combine and whisk all the dry ingredients: 2 cups of all-purpose flour, ¾ of a cup of almond meal, 2½ teaspoons of Chinese five-spice powder, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, ½ a teaspoon of baking soda, ½ a teaspoon of salt, ½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and ½ a teaspoon of ground ginger. In a mixer bowl combine 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of brown sugar and ½ a cup of white sugar. Cream until light and fluffy then add 3 large eggs, one at a time, and 1½ teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. Finally, add 1 cup of low fat Greek-style yoghurt. Transfer the batter to a well-greased bundt pan and bake for approximately 1 hour in a moderate oven. To make the cake more decadent I made a smoked salt caramel sauce from a recipe by Nigella Lawson. In a small saucepan melt 75g of unsalted butter, 50g of brown sugar, 50g of caster sugar and 50g of golden syrup and simmer for a few minutes. Add ½ a cup of double cream and 2 teaspoons of smoked sea salt flakes. Allow to cool a little then pour into a jug to serve.


Written by michelle picker

August 20, 2016 at 6:00 am