Coffee Cake

Another cake based on a vintage recipe, I really must get round to telling you all about my pet project. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that in America, coffee cake is cake served with coffee, while in England, coffee cake is cake that is flavored with coffee.

Anyway, the ingredients were very intriguing; treacle, raisins, cinnamon…not your usual additions to coffee. I changed the amount of treacle as I don’t think modern palates can cope with that much, and I had to leave out the raisins because of Eldest Son being a raisin hater. You can always put them back in if you like the idea. Buttermilk was added to keep things moist. The recipe didn’t mention icing, but the coffee flavored glacé icing was a wise addition.

This is quite a rich and sophisticated little number, perfect for a grown up tea party.

Coffee Cake serves 8-10

  • 120ml strong coffee (allowed to go cold)
  • 180g light brown sugar
  • 120g soft butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp treacle
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 150ml buttermilk

Grease and line a 20cm (or thereabouts) cake tin. Preheat the oven to 160⁰c (150⁰ fan/ gas mark 3).

Beat the butter and sugar to a cream. Beat in the eggs and treacle.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and cinnamon. Add half of the flour to the mixture and mix well, then add the coffee.

Beat in the other half of the flour, then the buttermilk.

Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and bake for around 50 minutes, but check after 40 minutes, or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. If the top of the cake is getting too brown before the middle is cooked, then cover with a piece of baking paper (not foil).

Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

If you want to ice the cake, combine 90g of sifted icing sugar with 1tbsp of soft butter and a spoonful or two of cool coffee, enough to make it a spreadable consistency. You can ice the cake while it is still hot, if you want.

Walnut and Maple Syrup Cake

At some point I’ll get round to telling you what I’ve been up to since…(checks notes), December? I’ll give you a clue, it’s something to do with vintage recipes. Also, I’ve been putting stuff on Ko-fi, in the misguided hope that someone might toss a few coins my way. Never mind.

Some flavour combinations are a match made in heaven; orange and chocolate, salt and vinegar, pineapple on pizza…and a particular favourite of mine, walnut (or pecan nut) with maple syrup.

This cake is based on, or perhaps, more accurately, inspired by a recipe from 1909, and definitely influenced by the fact there was a bottle of maple syrup in the fridge that had been open for a while.

Nuts can go a bit soft when cooked, so I like to toast them first to get rid of some of the moisture. You can skip this step if you want, but I do think it improves the flavour too.

Walnut and Maple Syrup Cake serves 8-10

  • 120g walnuts
  • 100g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 160g maple syrup

Chop the nuts into small pieces and toast in a dry frying pan, over a medium heat, for 3-5 minutes (optional).

Prepare a 8″/20cm cake tin. Preheat the oven to 160⁰c (140 fan, gas mark 3).

Beat the butter, sugar and eggs together. Add the maple syrup.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda into the mixture and beat well.

Beat in the buttermilk. Stir in the chopped nuts. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about an hour (though it’s best to check at the 40 minute mark).

Check to see if it’s cooked through by poking a skewer into the middle. If it comes out clean the cake is done, if it’s still sticky put it back in for another 5 minutes.

If the cake is getting too brown on top before the middle is cooked then cover the top with baking paper, not foil.

When cooked, cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then put on a wire rack to finish cooling. Ice with 90g of icing sugar mixed with 1tbsp of maple syrup, and enough milk or water to make the icing spreadable. Spread on top of the cake and leave to set before adding walnut halves as decoration. If the icing is still runny then the walnuts will, slowly but surely, slide to the edge of the cake!

Cake of the Month: Raspberry Butterscotch

I’m always impressed when people can decide on favourites. Favourite album, favorite film and so on. In a world so full of amazing stuff, how do they do that? For example, if you asked me what my favourite book was; I could perhaps break it down by genre and time period, and give you a list from each one. But an overall best book ever? No chance.

Which of course, brings us to cake. Oh, yes it does. So many great cakes to choose from, how could you possibly choose one?

You may or may not know that I spend an inordinate amount of time on Twitter. You meet some interesting people, it’s not all crazy trolls. One of these interesting people suggested raspberry and butterscotch as a flavour combination. I wasn’t sure to begin with but it really worked. After a couple of ice-cream experiments it was time to try a cake, and oh boy! It must be one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Definitely in the top five, at least…

While raspberries aren’t a very autumnal fruit, there are some in the shops still, and you could always use frozen berries.

Butterscotch is basically caramel made with brown instead of white sugar. If you feel confident making your own caramel then do, but remember it’s harder to tell when it’s ready because it’s brown already. You can make an educated guess, or use a sugar thermometer. Otherwise, buy a jar of butterscotch sauce.

Raspberry and Butterscotch Cake serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 180g soft butter
  • 120g brown sugar
  • 90g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 240g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp each of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
  • 140ml buttermilk
  • 100g raspberries

For the butterscotch sauce:

  • 100g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 30g butter
  • 150ml double cream
  • (Or a jar from the shop)

For the filling:

  • 1/2 jar of good quality raspberry jam
  • 90g butter
  • 180g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp butterscotch sauce

Method:

Grease and line two round sandwich cake tins. Preheat the oven to 180c/160 fan/gas mark 3

1. Beat together the butter, brown, and golden sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and mix well. Beat in the butter milk and raspberries, it doesn’t matter if the raspberries break into small pieces.

3. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for around 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then remove from the tins and finish cooling on a wire rack.

4. In the meantime, make the butterscotch sauce. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until dissolved.

5. Turn up the heat to medium. DO NOT STIR AFTER THIS POINT. Allow the butterscotch to come to the boil, and let it simmer for 2 minutes until it becomes caramel (it may take slightly more or less time than this, I’m afraid you’ll just have to use your judgement).

6. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the butter and cream. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally.

7. Make the buttercream. It’s easiest to do this with an electric whisk or small hand blender, if you have one. Sieve the icing sugar to remove lumps. Add the butter and butterscotch sauce and blend till smooth.

8. Assemble the cake. Spread the top of one of the cakes with raspberry jam. Spread the underside of the other cake with the buttercream, and sandwich them together.

9. Liberally spread the top of the cake with butterscotch sauce.

10. Enjoy!

A Walk in the Black Forest

Do you remember a couple of years ago, I made a post about what a marvellous bit of kit a deep sided tray bake/roasting tin was? I hope you were paying attention because we’re about to put it to use!

I was doing a bit of research, on Black Forest gateau and nostalgia, and was rather surprised. Apparently it was the desert beloved of ’90s kids’. Well, I thought it was the party dessert beloved of 80s kids; and I daresay 70s kids might have something to say about that! We all have fond memories of a frozen gateau of some kind being whipped out on special occasions.

Schwarzwalder kirsch torte was invented in the first part of the 20th century and named after the alcohol, not the mountain range. Personally, I’ve never understood why it has such a devoted following. But, I’ve never tasted the real thing, and have never been keen on frozen gateaux with soggy crumbs and mushy fruit.

First of all I wanted to have a go at making the real thing, but it seemed a bit of a faff, lots of steps and advanced techniques ( I can do it, I just don’t want to); so, instead here’s a homage to Black Forest gateau that anyone with a roasting tin and a whisk can make in a matter of minutes. You can use cherries in syrup, tinned cherries or even cherry pie filling if that’s all you can get. The cherry liqueur is optional, but does improve the flavour.

Black Forest Pudding serves at least 6

For the chocolate muffin base:

  • 250g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp of cocoa powder (I like Green & Black’s)
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 8 floz buttermilk (or milk, or natural yoghurt)
  • 3 floz vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp cherry liqueur (if you can’t get any, use juice or syrup from the cherries)

For the sauce and toppings:

  • A jar of cherries in kirsch syrup (or alternative)
  • A bar of dark chocolate
  • A jar of cherry conserve or jam
  • 200ml double/whipping/heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • Cherry liqueur (optional)

Method:

Grease and line your tin. A deep sided tray or roasting tin about 30cm x 20cm will do nicely. Or a square casserole dish, or cake tin, would be fine.

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cocoa powder, into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

2. In a separate, smaller bowl, beat together the egg, oil, buttermilk, and liqueur.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir, NOT beat, with a fork until only just combined. Muffin batter does not need to be smooth and aerated like sponge cake batter.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 180c/160 fan/gas mark 4. It will be firm to the touch, and a knife poked in the middle will come out clean.

5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

While it cools down, whip the cream and icing sugar until it’s nice and thick. Chill in the fridge.

6. When the cake has cooled down cut it into chunks. I cut mine into 35 chunks, there’s plenty left to nibble on.

7. Set out your serving dishes. Put a tbsp of syrup/juice/liqueur in the bottom of each dish. Add a heaped teaspoon of cherry conserve to each one and mix well.

8. Using 3 or 4 chunks of cake per person, depending on size and appetite, dip the cut edges in the syrupy jam, and pile into the dish.

9. Top with a generous blob of cream, some grated or chopped chocolate, and some cherries from the jar.

Clotted Cream Cake

Buttered Crumbs has not had a holiday for years. O, to be in Cornwall, land of clotted cream, having a proper cream tea.

Or a big slice of clotted cream cake. Using clotted cream instead of butter, and the seeds from a vanilla pod, it tastes just like ice cream in cake form, what’s not to love? Serve with more cream and some strawberries (quartered, sprinkled with a little sugar and left for half an hour to develop some syrupy juice) for an extra special treat.

Clotted Cream Cake (from a recipe in The Great British Book of Bakes)

  • 2 eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • a vanilla pod
  • pinch of salt
  • a tub of clotted cream (around 225g usually)
  • 200g self raising flour

Pre-heat the oven to 170°c/150 fan. Grease and line a loose bottomed/springform cake tin.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and mousse like. Stir the cream until it becomes runny. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and add them to the eggs.

Add the cream and salt to the eggs and whisk until only just combined.

Fold in the flour with a metal spoon until just combined. Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. If the top gets brown before the cake is cooked, cover with a sheet of baking paper (not foil). Cool on a wire rack.

It’s jam first in Cornwall, cream first in Devon

Egg Free Cakes – Part 2: Vinegar cake

Vinegar seems like a strange ingredient in a cake, doesn’t it? One of the many roles of egg as an addition to cake batter is to help the cake rise properly, giving a lighter texture than an eggless cake. Here the vinegar combines with the bicarbonate of soda to give the batter enough oomph to rise.

You honestly can’t taste the vinegar, there’s just a slight malty flavour to the crumb. Trust me!

Vinegar Cake

  • 225g (8oz) butter
  • 450g (1lb) plain flour
  • 225g mixed dried fruit (sultanas and raisins work well)
  • 225g (8oz) light soft brown sugar
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) milk
  • 3 tbsp malt vinegar

Preheat oven to 200/ 180 fan/ gas mark 4. Grease and line a round or square 9″ (23cm) cake tin.

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the fruit and sugar.

Sprinkle the soda into the milk, then add the vinegar. It will froth up. While it’s still frothing, add to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Turn into the cake tin and bake for 30 mins. Then reduce the temperature to 170/ 150 fan/ gas mark 3. Continue cooking until the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. If the top starts to burn before the cake is done, cover with a piece of baking paper (not foil).

Cool in the tin for 30 mins, finish cooling on a wire rack.

Malt vinegar is made from ale whch is allowed to become vinegar.

Egg Free Cakes – Part 1: Honey Cake

Lockdown. It could have been worse; though, I daresay for many of us It coud have been better. Still, plenty of time for baking right? IF you can get the ingredients of course. A combination of panic buying, and people having nothing better to do than make banana bread, has left the shelves a little bare. I mean, I’m all for people discovering the joys of homebaking, though there is a slight feeling of “hey, I liked baking before it was cool!”

Supposing you have managed to grab the last bag of flour, but what’s this? No eggs! Who is panic buying eggs anyway? If you look online there are various suggestions, often on vegan sites, for alternatives to eggs. Try them if you want, but I always find that recipes that never used ‘X’ ingredient in the first place always turn out (and taste) much better than adapting an existing recipe with alternatives.

So I’m going to share my two favourite egg-free cake recipes: Victorian Honey Cake – also low fat (but not low sugar, you can’t have everything) – and Vinegar Fruit Cake, which is a lot nicer than it sounds, the vinegar just adds a pleasant maltiness.

The honey cake is an adaptation of a recipe found in the first edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. We like to have it for breakfast. The original recipe calls for cream rather than buttermilk, I have tried it this way, but it’s very dry. Milk also works, if you can’t get hold of buttermilk, both give a nice chewy texture. Use any kind of honey; I like to use a mild honey for the cake, then while it’s still warm from the oven, brush liberally with a stronger tasting honey (Greek, for example). Cut the cake into squares, fingers, or use a cutter to stamp out fancy shapes (keep those lovely trimmings to eat sneakily while no one’s looking).

Victorian Honey cake

  • 4oz (120g) caster sugar
  • 8floz (230ml) buttermilk
  • 10oz (300g) plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbinate of soda
  • 4tbsp honey
  • More honey for glazing

Grease and line a square 9″ cake tin. Preheat oven to 190/ 170 fan/ gas mark 4.

Mix the sugar and cream together in a large bowl. Sift in the flour and soda and fold into the mixture.

Mix in the honey, and scrape the mixture into the tin.

Bake for around 30 mins (but check after 20), or until the top is a light golden brown and a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Spread the top generously with more honey while still warm.

Honey bees typically produce 2-3 times more honey than they actually need.

Real Brownies!

So like I said, in recent months I’ve seen all manner of “healthy” brownies parading virtuously around Internet Land. Gluten free, sugar free, grain free, made with beetroot, beans, courgettes, mayonnaise, mashed avocado, mashed banana, and my personal least favourite – cauliflower (that person was quickly unfollowed on pinterest). Would you eat them? Have you tried them? Let me know in the comments section.

BROWNIES AREN’T MEANT TO BE HEALTHY!

Now I’ve got that off my chest, it’s time to revisit this recipe for wonderfully naughty peanut butter brownies, that were cake of the month way back in 2015. They were based on a ‘Peanut Butter Brownie Bomb’ that I was fortunate enough to try at the Chocolate Festival in Oxford one year.

If you already have a favourite brownie recipe, use that. Otherwise you can’t go wrong with this recipe based on the one found in The Hummingbird Bakery book.

Basic Brownies

With this recipe as a starting point you can make any flavour that takes your fancy.

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 175g butter
  • 325g golden caster sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 3 eggs (any size)

Preheat the oven to 170°c/gas mark 3. Grease and line a rectangular traybake tin.

Break the chocolate into chunks and put in a saucepan/heatproof bowl with the butter. If you use a medium to large saucepan/bowl you can do all the mixing in it and save on washing up. Place over a pan of simmering water and stir gently till melted.

Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Sift in the flour and mix well. Beat in the eggs.

Pour into the prepared tin [Add extra ingredients at this point; for peanut butter brownies take half a jar of crunchy peanut butter and sweeten to taste with icing sugar. Dot the brownie mixture with the peanut butter] bake for around 30 mins. It should be glazed and flaky looking on top but still a little soft in the middle but a little over cooking won’t hurt it. Leave to cool in the tin, on top of a wire rack.

Makes 12 to 18 squares

PB brownies are particularly good if topped with milk chocolate. Melt 200g of a good quality milk chocolate and spread over the cooled brownie slab. leave to set then cut into squares or cut into small squares and completely coat each square in chocolate (you can thank me later).

Brownies and Beans?

Brownies – gooey, chocolatey, squidgy, wonderfully indulgent, but not terribly good for you. Does that really matter? After all, all cakes and biscuits should be eaten in moderation. However, recent months have seen all manner of “healthy” brownies parading virtuously around Internet Land. Gluten free, sugar free, grain free, made with beetroot, beans, courgettes, mayonnaise, mashed avocado, mashed banana, and my personal least favourite – cauliflower (that person was quickly unfollowed on pinterest).

Call me crazy, but isn’t the whole point of brownies that they are just a bit naughty and decadent? So I was looking forward to reviewing the next book on the shelf. I even bought this one twice; the first one was lent to a friend and never found it’s way home again. Was it worth it?

Blissful Brownies Love Food. Paragon books Ltd, 2007

“Delicious and luxurious recipes for mouthwatering brownies”

So why did you buy it?

I love brownies, and the recipes sounded really exciting. The deciding factor was a recipe for chocolate peppermint squares, a much loved staple of school dinners.

Judge a book by it’s cover…

Fairly ordinary, close up of brownies and the kind of graphics typical of the noughties.

Do you use it?

I seem to recall using it a lot at first, then it went on holiday to a friends house and was never seen again. Since then I’ve been using a different recipe.

What did you make?

Although I had big plans, in the end I just made Rocky Road Brownies (too sickly) and Cinnamon Squares (too greasy). Both were fairly uninspiring so i decided to quit while I was ahead.

Is it still in print?

No, but can be bought second hand on Amazon for 1p.

So is it worth buying?

Not really. While there a couple of gems in the book, most of the brownies are very un brownie-like. Eldest son even came out of his lair to exclaim “These aren’t brownies, they’re cakes!” Better recipies abound, I always use the Hummingbird bakery one now. Another big problem with this book is the quantities, which are often way out. The rocky road brownies were so thin I had to double them up layer cake style to get a decent sized square. So yeah, don’t bother, I’m glad I only spent a penny (plus p+p) to buy it again.

The gooeyness of brownies is down to their high sugar to flour ratio.

A Proper Seed Cake?

I first posted a recipe for seed cake waaay back in 2015. Having been thinking about Agatha Christie recently I thought I’d give it another go. This time I hadn’t got the right ingredients, and couldn’t be bothered to go to the shops. Not to be deterred I made it anyway, and you know what? – It was even better…

“Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…It all started one afternoon. Buttered Crumbs was taking a well earned tea break in front of the telly, watching “At Bertram’s Hotel”, a 1987 BBC adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name; starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. For me she is the definitive Miss Marple, none of the others can quite match up to her performance.

Anyway, Bertram’s Hotel, as well as being a hotbed of crime and intrigue, is known for it’s excellent afternoon teas and traditional cakes. When one of Miss Marple’s cronies is offered seed cake, she asks “Is it proper seed cake?” Hmmm. So what constitutes a “proper” seed cake? Miss Marple must be pretty old by this point; the book was first published in 1965 and she was described as a “white haired old lady” in 1930! We can assume then, that a “proper” cake would be one that they remembered from childhood or the recipe that they used as young women in their own homes, so you’re looking at Victorian times then.

The oldest seed cake recipe I have is from the well known Mrs Beeton, not that it was her recipe of course, she merely collected recipes for publication. Her seed cake is flavoured with (caraway seeds, obviously) nutmeg and copious amounts of brandy. Recipies from my 1930’s and 1950’s collections are flavoured with lemon and mixed peel. A modern “traditional” recipe from Darina Allen, is flavoured with vanilla.

Adapting the Mrs Beeton recipe to contain less brandy and so on, gave a moist buttery cake with a lovely flavour of caraway seeds.”

Here is the recipe for a good old fashioned seed cake, updated for 2019.

“A Very Good Seed Cake”

  • 7oz (210g) Self raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1oz (30g) ground almonds
  • 5oz (150g) caster sugar
  • 6oz (180g) butter
  • 2tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1tbsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground mace or nutmeg (mace is nicer)
  • 100ml Amaretto (almond liqueur)
  • 3 eggs

Grease and line an 8″ round springform or loose bottom cake tin. Pre heat the oven to 170ºc (150 fan, gas mark 3).

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Sift over the flour, groand almonds, bicarb and mace, and mix well.

Beat in the amaretto and caraway seeds and fennel seeds if using. Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 mins. If the cake is browning too much before it’s cooked in the middle, cover with a piece of baking paper.

Cool on a wire rack and invite your Maiden Great Aunt to tea.

Miss Marple first appeared in a short story in 1927 and her first full length novel was “The Murder at the Vicarage” 1930.