Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

I had a bit of leftover vanilla buttercream in the freezer I wanted to use up (the stuff keeps for months when you freeze it- I often make more than I need, and collect any leftovers). I decided to get creative and try making raspberry buttercream: I put a punnet of fresh raspberries into a saucepan, heated them until they broke down into liquidy bits, sieved them and boiled down the clear juice until thick. Then I cooled it, and whipped it into the defrosted buttercream (there was about a coffee mug-sized amount of leftover buttercream to work with).

I baked some lemon cupcakes using my bog standard sponge recipe, omitting the vanilla and adding the juice and zest of a lemon, and frosted them with my raspberry buttercream.

It was a fruity, zingy success.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Blueberry Coconut Tres Leches Layer Cake- Recipe

'Tres leches' means 'three milks' in Spanish, referring to the three types of milk the soaking syrup for this cake calls for. Maybe it should be called 'quatros leches' because you could count the whipped cream frosting as a fourth milk, but... eh.

Pastel de tres leches, or tres leches cake, is a plain sponge cake traditionally soaked in a mixture of condensed milk, evaporated milk and regular milk. With just the right amount of milk syrup, the cake doesn't become soggy: instead it's light, wonderfully moist without being sodden and not too sweet.

I last made one- albeit accidentally- while visiting my friend Vicky in Berlin, resulting in a haphazard but utterly wonderful creation we named a 'treslechesblaubeerrosemarmeladehaselnusssahnekuchen' (tres leches blueberry rose jam hazelnut cream cake). I decided to make a tres leches cake on purpose today, keeping the idea of using blueberries, and I added coconut milk instead of regular to the soaking syrup for a slightly tropical spin (since summer's finally arrived and it's over 30 degrees C outside, at the moment).

The sponge is also a true sponge, with no butter or oil: it makes for a really light, fluffy cake- but it also dries out fast. However, this characteristic happens to make it perfect for soaking up syrup to keep it moist, and it's the spongy texture of this cake that stops it from becoming mushy.

Ingredients for Sponge Cake:

-4 eggs, separated
-150g caster sugar
-150g self-raising flour, sifted

Ingredients for Tres Leches Syrup:

-150ml condensed milk
-150ml evaporated milk
-150ml coconut milk

Ingredients for Filling, Frosting and Topping:

-300ml whipping cream
-blueberry jam
-A couple of handfuls of fresh blueberries


1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line and grease a deep 7" wide spring form cake tin

2) In one bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form a stiff white foam, and thoroughly beat in half the sugar to create a meringue.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and other half of the sugar together until pale and fluffy.

4) With a spatula, gently fold the fluffy egg yolks into the egg whites, followed by the flour (don't over mix: stop folding as soon as everything is well-combined).

5) Pour into the tin and bake for 25-35mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.

6) Take the cake out of the oven and invert on a baking parchment-lined cooling rack to cool for five minutes.

7) To make the syrup, simply lightly whisk the three milks together.

8) While the cake's still hot, remove it from the tin and slice it into three equal layers, placing each on a separate plate.

9) Carefully and evenly spoon the syrup over the three slices of cake, trying to use the same amount for each slice. Cover with cling film and leave to cool, putting them in the fridge for half an hour when cool enough (this gives them a chance to absorb all of the liquid to the centre).

10) Whisk the whipping cream until spreadable and firm. Take the cakes out of the fridge and sandwich them with as much blueberry jam as you like, leaving the very top of the last layer clean. Spread the cream over the top and sides, pipe pretty patterns with the remaining cream and scatter your fresh blueberries on top.

11) Put back in the fridge to let the cream set a little, and serve!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Purple Sweet Potato Roll Cake- Recipe

"Purple potatoes?" Asked Dad, incredulous.

"Yes," I replied patiently, "If it helps, just pretend it's orange like normal sweet potatoes- the only difference is the colour."

"Hang on hang on, I'm having a hard enough time believing you could even make a cake out of potatoes!" Laughed Dad.

"Of course you can," I said, "What about all those cakes that are safe to eat for Passover? What do you think they're made out of? Potato flour!"

"I don't know about that..." Said Dad, staring at the offending purple cake somewhat suspiciously.

I've been wanting to work with purple sweet potatoes since I proceeded to burn one in the process of making bubur cha cha- unfortunately when I went back to the store I found them in Chinatown soon after, they were no longer selling them. Thankfully they're back in stock again- only it's way too summery and hot outside for a hot dessert like bubur cha cha, now. So I made this instead- finished with strawberries and a whipped cream cheese filling.

In the end, this cake was very well-received: once you get over the shock of colour and that it's actually all natural, you can appreciate the mild, almost nutty sweet flavour of the sweet potatoes. Both Mum and Dad loved it, and reckoned that if I hadn't said anything, they'd have never guessed it was made from potatoes.

Best of all, look at the FANTASTIC colour of these things:

And it's all natural. Awesome.

If you can't find these beauties (I can only ever find them in one particular shop in Chinatown), you can substitute them for regular orange sweet potatoes.

Ingredients for Swiss Roll:

-250g sweet potatoes in any colour you can get your hands on
-4 eggs, separated
-40g caster sugar
-30g self-raising flour, sifted (you don't need much because most of the starch comes from the potatoes)
-2tbsp milk
-1tbsp vegetable oil

Ingredients for Filling and Topping:

-300ml whipping cream
-200g cream cheese
-5tbsp caster sugar
-300g strawberries


1) Start by peeling and chopping up your sweet potato(es) into small cubes and steam them for 15-20mins until tender (steaming rather than boiling keeps the best colour).

2) Mash potatoes until very smooth and let them cool (if you have a coarse sieve, press them through that after roughly mashing).


3) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ Gas Mark 4.

4) Line a 26x36cm baking tray with non-stick greaseproof paper and lightly grease it.

5)  Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they form a stiff peaks when you lift the beater out, add half of the sugar and continue to beat until glossy and white (this can take a few minutes).

6) Whisk the other half of the sugar with the egg yolks in a separate bowl until pale and fluffy (be sure to do the yolks AFTER the whites, unless you clean the beaters in between).

7) Add in the oil, milk and potato purée and whisk until smooth.

8) Gently mix in the flour until just combined.

9) Fold a couple of tablespoonfuls of the egg white meringue mixture into the potato mixture to loosen it up a bit, then very gently but thoroughly fold in the rest of the egg whites, again until just combined.

10) Pour into your prepared baking tin and spread evenly, dropping the whole tin down on your counter a few times to bash out large air bubbles, and bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when you poke the cake with it.

11) Turn out onto a baking parchment-lined cooling rack, leaving the tin on top whilst it cools to keep in the moisture.

12) Whisk the cream cheese with the sugar until fluffy, and add the whipping cream, whisking until very thick (careful not to overdo it or you'll make cheesy butter). Quarter the strawberries, leaving six whole to garnish.

13) When completely cool, remove the tin from the cake and peel off the top layer of baking parchment. Lay the parchment back over the top and flip the whole thing over (so that the parchment it was baked with is at the bottom, and the parchment you used to line the rack is at the top). Get rid of the parchment that's now on top.

14) Cut a bit off the furthest end of the cake, sculpting at a sloping angle so that it'll roll up more snugly.

15) Spread the your whipped cream cheese on, leaving a bit of space around the sides and towards the end (because the cream will squish out as you roll the cake up). Arrange your strawberries on top of the cream, and very tightly roll up the cake, using the parchment underneath to help you. NOTE: You'll have some of the cream left to garnish, so put it in a small bowl and in the fridge until you need it.

16) Once rolled up, twist the ends of the parchment like a sweet wrapper to keep the cake firmly rolled up. Cover it with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least four hours.

17) When you're ready to serve, take the cake out of the fridge, remove all the wrapping and place it on a plate. Pipe on some of the remaining cream mixture, garnish with your whole strawberries, and slice!

Here, I have tried to pipe pretty swirls of cream. Alas, as it reached 28 degrees C in the kitchen whilst I was doing this, the cream kept melting as I tried to pipe it. So dollops it was.

This cake is wonderfully melt-in-the-mouth: even if you can't find purple sweet potatoes, do try it with the regular kind.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Jungle Junction Cake

I made this big, big cake for my dad's colleague's little boy. I'd never heard of Jungle Junction before, so I watched a few episodes before making the cake. You know. For research purposes. It's one wild show- it's about a bunch of animated animals, with wheels instead of legs.