Saturday, 27 November 2010

Orange and Cranberry Port Wine Cake

A beautiful, glazed cake enhanced with soaked cranberries in Port wine and flavoured with orange and spice. It really is simple too, a very basic pound cake made with good quality organic butter and demerara sugar.
Just one thing to remember, it's the Port that 'maketh' the difference. It plumps up and adds sweetness to the cranberries. I also added a spoonful to the orange glaze. The other notable difference I found, in this recipe, the butter taste was not dominated by any of  the other flavours. Therefore, you get this lovely buttery, spiced orange, fruity taste left in your mouth during and after you've eaten it. 

A very fruity first slice.


Pre bake 2/3 days ahead:

7oz (200g) Dried Cranberries (2 bags of Crazy Jacks Organic Cranberries)
4 tbsp Port (Port wine /sweet Port, non-alcoholic suggestion; raspberry cordial)

Rinse and check over fruit for any stalks etc. Put into a small bowl with Port and cover; stir each day to plump up the fruit.


8oz (225g) Butter (Yeo Valley Organic)

8oz (225g) Demerara sugar (Raw sugar)
4  Large eggs

2 oranges
8oz (225g) Self raising four
2 tsp Ground cinnamon

Cranberries (see pre-bake info above)


4oz Demerara sugar
4 fl. oz Orange juice (the juice from the 2 oranges)
1 tbsp Port

Worth seeking out - good quality dried fruit

Preheat oven 140c/120c Fan/275F/Gas Mark 1

Grease and flour cake tin. For this recipe I used a ring tin or you could use a Bundt tin or a loaf tin.

Cream the sugar and butter together.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Add the zest from the two oranges. Fold in half the flour and the cinnamon. Then coat the cranberries in the remaining flour and combine with the cake batter.  

The mixture is quite chunky so you will need to spoon it into the tin. Place into the oven.

Check after 25-30 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. This one took 40 mins in my ring tin.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, make sure sides of the cake are coming away from the tin and remove. Place on serving plate ready for a brushed glaze or on a cooling rack and tray for a poured glaze.

To make the glaze; use the juice from the two oranges and put in a saucepan with 4 oz demerara sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the sugar is completely dissolved and boil for three minutes. Allow to cool for two minutes and add the tbsp Port. Brush or pour over the cake.

The cake serves at least 16 and the recipe can be halved easily. This did remind me of an English Cherry Madeira Cake which was traditionally served with Madeira wine. Although I suppose you could serve this with Port, I am firmly in the Cheese and Port Brigade and then, Tea and Cake Platoon.  So I’m off to ‘put the kettle on’….

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Chocolate Cake For Breakfast

Midweek distraction no 9 - Chocolate cake is still the theme and why not have it for breakfast? Bill Cosby doesn't see a problem here, in this classic sketch:

And if you want any more encouragement, some lyrics from Greg Lee:

'Last night I dreamed about cake for breakfast
Two big pieces just for me.
They're standing there on a paper platter
covered with a doily.'

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Chocolate Button Cake - Grown Up Style

Warning this is the richest chocolate cake on the blog so far! It started off as a little recipe experiment from a humble chocolate button cake but beware, this is a dark, dark, chocolate cake rather than the sweet confection you are all used to . Using lots of Green and Black's 70 % chocolate and topped off with dark Duchy Original Thins  on a whipped chocolate cream. Tempted?

Everyone loves chocolate buttons and chocolate cake and I guess that's why it's such a popular combination. However, there seemed to be an age limit on this so I've upscaled this for the adult palate.  I've kept the essentials; buttons and cake but added lots of real dark chocolate, alcohol and nuts and pretended to be grown up.

Ingredients :

Cake :

8oz (225g) Butter
8oz (225g) Golden caster sugar
1 tbsp Dark treacle
4 Large eggs

3oz (90g) Self raising flour
1oz (30g) of Dark cocoa powder
4oz (120g) Ground almonds

8 oz (225g)   Dark chocolate 70% – Green and Blacks - 2 bars and a bit


¼ pint (150 ml) Double cream
3 ½ oz (100g) Dark chocolate 70% – Green and Blacks
1 tbsp  Port or liqueur or add flavouring to taste

Chocolate Thins to decorate or your favourite buttons – Duchy Originals


Preheat oven to a low temperature 120c/100c Fan/250F/Gas Mark 1/2 .

Grease and line two sandwich cake tins. I like using 8 inch (20 cm) square ones to shape the cake ready for cutting smaller squares for serving later.

Cream the sugar and butter together, add the treacle and whisk in. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and cocoa, and then fold in the ground almonds.  Melt the chocolate and combine well into the mix.

Divide into two cake sandwich tins. You can weigh each one to make sure you have the same weight of mixture in both, for two even bakes. Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 30 minutes, mine actually took 40 mins to cook. Cook until a skewer comes cleanly out and the sides of the cake are just coming away from the tin. Allow to cool and make topping. 

This cake is so rich it doesn’t really need a topping but just to go OTT, make this simple chocolate cream. Melt chocolate and in a separate bowl whisk the double cream until nearly thick. Add the cream to the melted chocolate one tbsp at a time and beat in. Add flavouring to taste. Spread onto both cakes. Allow to set slightly before putting on buttons.

Just to prove I’m not  mean or a snob; I made one cake without a liqueur in the chocolate cream and put milk chocolate buttons on it for my children but then, they wanted  giant buttons as well, who wouldn’t?


However, I think the giant buttons do make it look quite special and I used Duchy Originals Dark Chocolate Thins . You can vary this by adding the liqueur of your choice to the chocolate cream or simply orange juice or mint flavouring to go with the other Duchy Thins in the range shown on the link. They are available online or from Waitrose.They have a nice design on the back which you could also use as a decoration.

If you can't source these products, look for good quality dark chocolate with 70% cocoa mass. Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Midweek distraction no 8 - the Cakewalk.  I love old film archives and this one shows clips of the Cakewalk.  It has been suggested that the dance originated as a parody of the formal ballroom dancing preferred of white slave owners, including satirical exaggerations of European dance moves.
Cakewalk dance competitions were commonplace in the black community of the southern USA in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In those, couples would be judged on their style in the Cakewalk. The winners were said to have 'taken the cake'*, which was often the prize.

This clip was downloaded by . Also, if you are interested in more Cakewalk and Blues Dance history another interesting site is Sonny Watson’s .
*There is a much older possible origin to the phrase ' take the cake', going back to the ancient Greeks.  Aristophanes wrote "The Knights": "if you surpass him in impudence, then we take the cake". Throughout history it seems sometimes you just got to have...cake. Later on this week we are back to Chocolate Cake with very special 'buttons'. Watch this space.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Banana and Pecan Roulade

This week’s cake has two of my favourite ingredients in it; pecans and bananas. Then again, I have a very long list of favourites so add maple syrup and cinnamon and a filling of sweetened cream cheese, for a lightly spiced, nutty, Banana and Pecan Roulade.

For the UK, let’s just say, I meant a fatless swiss roll but doesn’t ‘roulade’ sound nicer. Also, for a change, there is a slightly different mixing technique for the fatless sponge, where the eggs are whisked separately and you have the final challenge of rolling it all up!

However, these ingredients are particularly forgiving for rolling up with the banana keeping the roll moist. Adding a nice nutty texture with pecans and the cream cheese tang you get cake similar to rolled up carrot cake.  This is quick to make and tastes better than you can buy, so have a go.



5   Large eggs
5oz (140g) Golden caster sugar

1 tbsp Maple Syrup

2  Medium size ripe bananas (8 oz/225g with the skins off)
3oz (90g) Pecans

1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Mixed spice
3oz (90g) Self raising flour


10oz (280g) Cream cheese
2 tbsp Maple Syrup

1 tsp Cinnamon


Icing sugar to dredge
Optional; banana slices or dried banana pieces if not serving straight away, whole pecans and some of the filling mix on the top of the roulade


I used a large baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper, 26cm x 38cm which makes 1 large sponge or cut the sponge in half, two smaller ones


Preheat oven 140c/120c Fan/300F/Gas Mark 2

In a blender (I use a Magimix with a Sabatier blade) chop up the  pecans coarsely.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until pale and creamy, they should have at least doubled in size. Mash or puree the bananas and add to the mixture with the maple syrup. Sift in the flour, the spices and stir in the pecans.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff.

Ready to fold 

Gently fold the egg whites into the main mixture, trying to keep those air bubbles in.

Pour into tin and put into oven. Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 15 minutes. Cook until the sponge lightly springs back to your touch.

The roll method I use is to let the cake cool slightly, for only 5 mins max. Prepare a large piece of greaseproof paper with icing sugar sifted over it. Loosen sides of cake if necessary then turn the cake out first on to a large cooling rack or tray. This confirms that you can get the cake out of the tin.

Gently peel off the original greaseproof paper and then invert the cake onto the sugared greaseproof. You may need your hand to help you support the cake as you do this. Cover with a dampened tea cloth for 2 mins, remove tea cloth and start to roll, with the paper, into a roll.

Scary close up of the roll cooling off on the washer...
Let the cake cool completely.

For the filling, simply combine the cinnamon, maple syrup and cream cheese together. This recipe has a lightly spiced cream cheese filling only sweetened with maple syrup, very similar to a carrot cake topping.  This may not be sweet enough for some cake lovers so think about adding icing sugar now if it’s too tangy for you.

After cake has cooled, gently unroll. Keep a large tablespoon of the filling for the decoration, if desired and, spread the filling generously over the cake. Start to roll up again. Trim ends of the cake for a neat look. (Test that bit, I do.)

Place on serving dish and dredge with icing sugar for a simple and effective finish. You can also decorate the top with a band of filling and place pecan and/or bananas slices on the top, as you wish. This cake serves at least 12 people and a good slice each time, no arguments!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Extreme Cake Engineering

Midweek distraction no 7 - Moving on from last week’s Ultimate Car Cake to a Moving Building Cake! You get to play with motors, cake and paints, for an alternative career choice, meet the cake engineer and creative artist; David Cakes. David has been hard at work and play for many years creating amazing cakes but this one had an extra twist:

David was commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, to create a replica in cake of a Richard Wilson’s installation; "Turning the Place Over", in Liverpool’s city centre. The building had been radically changed whereby a section could be seen turning literally inside out. A piece of cake really! (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.) View now:

If you are interested in more of David’s creations, please check out his site here In the meantime, I am off to do more humble things such as putting marzipan on the Christmas Cake. (Maybe, if I find that old Meccano set we could have a pop out of the chimney Santa Claus or a rotating snow scene... or maybe not.)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Chocolate Orange Cake

This Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe is part homage to the famous pairing of chocolate and orange and, to Green and Black’s Organic Cocoa Powder which is particularly rich, dark and tasty. What makes it different to most recipes is the change in texture for the topping; under the hard, dark chocolate topping is a rich, zesty, soft chocolate orange buttercreammmmmmmmmm.

Text Only Printable Recipe


Cake :

8oz (225g) Butter
8oz (225g) Golden caster sugar
4 Eggs
4oz (110g) Self raising flour
4oz (110g) of Dark cocoa powder (Green and Blacks).
1 Orange

Butter Cream Topping:

4oz (110g) Icing sugar
1 oz (30g) Cocoa powder
1 oz (30g) Butter
1 Orange

Hard Chocolate Topping

100g bar of 70% Dark chocolate (Green and Blacks).


Preheat oven 140c/120c Fan/275F/Gas Mark 1.

Grease two (2lb) loaf tins and line bottom with baking paper. This only fills the tin half way so you can use a smaller tin but I like the depth to topping ratio this gives.

This recipe is enough to make two cakes; one for you to give to a friend and pretend to be generous and, the other for your cake tin.

Cream the sugar and butter together. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and cocoa. Add the zest from the orange and the juice. Divide into two loaf tins.

Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool and make icing.

Simple butter cream – whisk butter, and icing sugar and cocoa powder together. Add a tbsp of the orange juice at a time until smooth enough to spread . Add orange zest for more tang. Now spread over top of cakes.

Chocolate Orange Buttercream Layer

Melt chocolate bar gently and spread over butter cream. I find doing this in two thin coats is easier. Allow to cool slightly and make knife marks on top so that the hard chocolate can be cut into easily. Not terribly attractive at this stage but I usually serve this already cut up into slices where the effect of the two textures looks good.


I enjoyed making this recipe with  Green and Black's Organic Cocoa Powder and it does taste better with a rich dark powder. Also, I would like to make this recipe with  lime zest and juice but I was out voted on the home front again. Definitely one for Chocolate Orange Lovers, or maybe there are other alcoholic possibilities Rum, Cointreau........

Did you know that Green and Blacks are looking for a taster? Applications will close on the 14th December 2010 -  click  fancy a change of job?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Ultimate Car Cake

Midweek distraction No. 6 – Do you remember this advert for the Car Cake, or should I say, a Skoda Fabia?  Now I prefer  to watch this with the music off but it is one of my favourite TV adverts of all time, even though you have to live with the disappointment that it was not actually 'deemed' edible for Health and Safety reasons due to the studio conditions (and suspiciously nobody even licked their fingers?)

It seems that the Car Cake was  'scrapped' at the East London Community Recycling Project in Clapton, a project set up to provide local residents and members with quality compost for use on their gardens or allotments. Some of my cake experiments have had to meet a similar end, although most can be rescued, with the help of a liberal soaking of alcohol in a trifle or two…