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.

Chocolate Horlicks Cake

It’s been a week since me and my youthful college Chums completed our English A level exam, though it feels like an eternity. Since then the weather has been wet and gloomy – hellooo British summer time! I’ve also been “under the weather” metaphorically with a yucky cold.

Today’s cake is a big warm hug on a plate, ideal for when you need a bit of comfort and a big cup of tea.

The recipe is a variation on the malted milk cake I posted a couple of years ago, only made with instant chocolate Horlicks instead of regular Ovaltine (both malt based hot drinks), and some lovely crunchy chunks of Maltesers in the icing. You can use another brand of ‘chocolate covered malt balls’ (catchy ain’t it), but I have yet to find one that tastes anywhere near as good as Maltesers.

Chocolate Horlicks Cake

  • 4oz (120g) butter
  • 7oz (210g) golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8oz (240g) plain flour
  • 4oz (120g) instant chocolate Horlicks powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 8floz (230ml) milk

Grease and line two sandwich cake tins. Pre heat the oven to 170°c/150 fan/gas mark 4.

Using a hand mixer or wooden spoon, beat together the butter and sugar. Whisk in the eggs.

Sift together the flour, Horlicks and baking powder. Add to the mixture in three or four stages, alternating with the milk until everything is well blended.

Divide between the cake tins and bake for around 20 mins until golden brown and springy to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then finish cooling on a wire rack.

For the buttercream icing:

  • 4oz (120g) soft butter
  • 8oz sifted icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp Horlicks powder
  • 4 to 6 tbsp milk
  • 100g Maltesers or similar

Put everything in a big bowl and mix together, adding more milk if necessary for a soft spreading consistency.

Crush the Maltesers into chunks with the end of a rolling pin and stir into the buttercream.

Use half to sandwich the cakes together and spread the other half on top.

Malt is made from sprouted barley.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

It started as a quirky seasonal flavour, became an amusing cliché and is now an unstoppable force. We speak of course, of Pumpkin Spice Latte. In Internet Land you cannot escape it’s nutmeg scented grasp. Now it’s here I tell you! IT’S HERE! (Noise of screaming and chaos.)

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/518688082062912881/

Everybody’s doing it. A Google search for P.S.L brings up 19,600,000 results! So, as the saying goes: “If you can’t beat them, join them”. Try this super moist cake – with the warming flavours of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg; enjoy by the fire with a mug of milky coffee.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

  • 4oz (120g) soft butter
  • 6oz (180g) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 7oz (210g) plain flour
  • 1oz (30g) ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp each of ground cloves and nutmeg / mace
  • 4floz (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1 butternut squash or small pumpkin

First peel, seed and chop the squash into chunks. Simmer until soft, drain and mash to a puree. Leave to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 170ºc (150 fan, gas mark 3). Grease and line a deep, loose bottomed or springform cake tin.

Beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Measure out 6oz (180g) of squash puree (use the rest as a side dish for a roast dinner or freeze it to make another cake later) Mix in the puree. Sift together all of the dry ingredients, then gradually beat into the mixture.

Mix in the buttermilk, then scrape the mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 30 – 40 mins, until a skewer poked in the middle come out clean. If it starts to get too brown before the middle is cooked, cover with a piece of baking parchment (not foil). Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove from the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.

For the icing:

  • 6oz (180g) icing sugar
  • 3oz (90g) softened butter
  • ½ vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp white hot chocolate powder (optional, but it really makes a difference)
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Spread evenly over the top of the cooled cake. Dust with cocoa powder, hot chocolate powder or powdered instant coffee.

“Pumpkin Spice” is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble Cake

“O come at last, to whom the spring-tide’s hope

Looked for through blossoms, what hast thou for me?

Green grows the grass upon the dewy slope

Beaneath thy gold hung, grey leaved apple tree

Moveless, e’en as the autumn fain would be

That shades its sad eyes from the rising sun

And weeps at eve because the day is done”

September – William Morris

Autumn is the pefect season. Crisp mornings giving way to warm sunshine, pretty coloured, crispy leaves to kick around, and every hedgerow bursting with free food (the best kind) Now is the time to go foraging for fruits, nuts and berries, mushrooms too if you feel brave (I’m not) Do make sure you know what you are picking, blackberries are easy to recognize but there are a multitude of other berries that look very much alike, you don’t want to be poisoned now do you? If you’re not experienced take a guide book with you. If in doubt – DON’T EAT IT!! Some berries are fine cooked but not raw so don’t put your fingers in your mouth while picking, if you don’t believe me look up “purgative” in the dictionary and ponder it’s meaning.

First pick your blackberries (if you buy blackberries from the supermarket between August and October I will never respect you again (unless it’s been raining and they’re all squishy), it only takes a few minutes to pop out to the nearest alleyway/wasteground/disused railway/neighbours garden to pick a couple of handfuls, which is all you need). Now it’s time to make September’s cake of the month, based on that wonderfully comforting British classic pudding, apple crumble.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble Cake

Based on a traditional Somerset apple cake

  • 4oz (120g) Butter
  • 6oz (180g) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8oz (240g) white or brown plain flour
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cooking apples
  • a couple of handfuls of fresh blackberries
  • 4 tbsp milk

For the crumble topping:

  • 4oz (120g) plain flour
  • 2oz (60g) butter
  • 1oz (30g) granulated sugar

Pre heat the oven to 170ºc (325ºf). Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin, a springform one is the best, it’s tricky to get out of a loose bottomed tin because of the crumble topping!

Make the crumble first. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and rub together until they resemble breadcrumbs. Put to one side.

Chop the apple into small cubes:

apple chunksIn a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Sift in the flour, spices and baking powder and mix well.

Fold in the apples, blackberries and milk. Don’t worry it the mixture seems a bit stiff, the fruit releases moisture as it cooks, so don’t add any more liquid.

blackberry mix

Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Sprinkle the crumble mix over the top. Bake for around 40 mins or until a skewer poked in the middle  comes out clean. If it seems to be too brown before being cooked in the centre, cover with a sheet of baking paper (not foil).

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins tham gently ease it out and cool on a wire tray.

Lovely served warm or cold, especially with clotted cream!

apple b cover

“Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness” – Keats

If you can’t beat em…

It started as a quirky seasonal flavour, became an amusing cliché and is now an unstoppable force. We speak of course, of Pumpkin Spice Latte. In Internet Land you cannot escape it’s nutmeg scented grasp. Now it’s here I tell you! IT’S HERE! (noise of screaming and chaos) Recently I noticed a pumpkin-spice-latte-flavour ‘Muller Corner’ yogurt  in a local supermarket, though I think they’re a little confused about which season it normally relates to, the lid features little spigs of holly !?

Everybody’s doing it. A Google search for P.S.L brings up 935,000 results, so as the saying goes: “If you can’t beat them, join them” Try this super moist cake, with the warming flavours of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, enjoy by the fire with a mug of milky coffee!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

  • 4oz (120g) soft butter
  • 6oz (180g) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 7oz (210g) plain flour
  • 1oz (30g) ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp each of ground cloves and nutmeg / mace
  • 4floz (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1 butternut squash or small pumpkin

First peel, seed and chop the squash into chunks. Simmer until soft, drain and mash to a puree. Leave to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 170ºc (150 fan, gas mark 3). Grease and line a deep, loose bottomed or springform cake tin.

Beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Measure out 6oz (180g) of squash puree (use the rest as a side dish for a roast dinner or freeze it to make another cake later) Mix in the puree. Sift together all of the dry ingredients, gradually beat into the mixture.

Mix in the buttermilk then scrape the mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 30 – 40 mins, until a skewer poked in the middle come out clean. If it starts to get too brown before the middle is cooked, cover with a piece of baking parchment (not foil). Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove from the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.

For the icing:

  • 6oz (180g) icing sugar
  • 3oz (90g) softened butter
  • ½ vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp white hot chocolate powder (optional, but it really makes a difference)
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Spread evenly over the top of the cooled cake. Dust with cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder.

“Pumpkin Spice” is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.