Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Whole Orange Cake- Recipe

For this moist, soft and fragrant cake, you pretty much take two whole oranges, turn them into mush with a blender or food processor, and use the whole lot- rind and all. The resulting cake is packed full of orange flavour, not too sweet, and surprisingly not too bitter either.

When I was researching how to go about this, there seem to be three different ways of making this cake: one way using just flour, one using ground almonds instead of flour and one using olive oil instead of butter. I used butter since I felt that the moistness from the whole oranges would be more than enough, and I used a mixture of ground almonds and flour for a texture that was dense enough to be satisfying, but still fluffy and not too heavy.

This is a pretty big cake: I used a 10" bundt pan here. Yes, it has a crazy amount of butter and sugar, but it's all in proportion and you're not going to eat the entire cake all in one sitting (although if you do, I'm not going to judge you).

Ingredients for Cake:

-2 large oranges (I used seedless Navel), scrubbed with kitchen towel to remove any wax on the skin
-340g unsalted butter, softened
-450g sugar
-3 eggs
-500g plain flour
-50g ground almonds
-1tbsp vanilla
-3tsp baking powder
-1tsp salt

Ingredients for Glaze (optional):

-A small handful of ready to roll fondant icing
-4tbsp orange juice


1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and grease and flour your cake pan very well.

2) Slice the very tops and bottoms off of your oranges- this removes the thickest part of the rind and the little green stem bit on the top.

3) Quarter your oranges, and slice the stringy, pithy bit in the middle off (and remove any seeds if you haven't got seedless oranges).

4) Cut the slices into smaller chunks, pop them into the food processor or blender...

5) And blend until very smooth (you may need to scrape the sides down halfway through):

6) Begin to make the base cake mixture as you normally would: cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale, and beat the eggs in until well combined.

7) At this stage, whisk in the orange pulp and vanilla. Now whisk in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.

8) Scrape everything into the prepared cake pan, bash it on the counter a bit to knock out large air bubbles, and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a skewer poked into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.

9) Leave the cake to cool in the pan for about 30 minutes- it'll come out of the oven looking quite high, but it'll sink a little as it cools.

10) To make the glaze, pop your fondant into a microwavable bowl and microwave at 20 second bursts until it begins to soften, then stir in the orange juice a tablespoon at a time.

11) I made the mistake of microwaving the juice and icing together, resulting in the icing being a tiny bit lumpy.

12) Once your cake is cool enough (it can still be a bit warm, providing you've greased your pan very well), turn it out onto a plate and drizzle the icing over. Now enjoy!

You can always make a basic water icing out of powdered sugar and orange juice- I just used what I had to hand. Even if you don't want to ice it, the cake is so melt-in-the-mouth moist that it can hold its own without being iced: the glaze just makes it prettier, that's all.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Hallon Toscatårta- Recipe

Disclaimer: Google Translate told me that the Swedish word for 'raspberry' is 'hallon', so I'm rolling with it: apologies if I've bastardised the grammar or language in any way, please feel free to correct me!

I've been wanting to make a Tosca cake ever since I stumbled upon Nordic Bakery in London- a cosy café with a Scandinavian twist. I was dazzled by the cakes on the counter, but I ended up trying one of their near-famous sticky cinnamon buns. A little tip: try the cinnamon buns. They are EPIC.

One of the cakes that I would have bought had I not been led by the siren song of the cinnamon bun was something called a Tosca cake, which is basically a sponge cake with a caramelised almond flake topping. I still haven't tried Nordic Bakery's version, but having read about it it seemed to me like a relatively simple thing to try making for myself.

I researched why it's called Tosca incidentally, for anyone that's interested: think of Florentines: they're those round, flat Italian sweet things commonly made with caramelised almond flakes amongst other things, and coated in chocolate on one side. Florentines originated in Florence. Florence is the capital city of the region of Tuscany, or 'Toscana' if you're Italian. Hence the 'Tosca' part of 'Tosca cake' refers to the Florentine-like almond topping of the cake.

I think.

Anyway, as usual I played around with the general recipe, and ended up making a raspberry Tosca cake. I added ground almonds to the sponge cake for a slightly moister texture and some almond extract for a more frangipane-like flavour, and added some fresh raspberries into the cake batter before baking. I think the sharpness of the fruit complements the sweetness of the sponge and caramelised topping very well.

Ingredients for Sponge:

-3oz unsalted butter
-5oz caster sugar
-3 eggs
-4oz self raising flour
-1oz ground almonds
-1tsp almond extract
-1tsp vanilla extract
-a pinch of salt
-5oz raspberries

Ingredients for Tosca Topping:

-2oz butter
-2oz caster sugar
-3tbsp cream (single, double or whipping are all fine)
-2tsp plain flour
-1tsp vanilla
-100g flaked almonds
-1 extra tbsp cream


1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease and line a 9" springform/ loose bottomed cake tin.

2) Mix the sponge part up like any other sponge: cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, beat the eggs in thoroughly once at a time, fold in the flour and mix in the milk and vanilla.

3) Scoop the cake batter into the tin, smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or spatula, and drop the tin on the counter a few times to bash out large air bubbles.

4) Scatter the raspberries evenly on top and poke them in a bit- when the cake's in the oven the raspberries will sink, so don't worry about pushing them down completely.

5) Bake for about 30mins until the cake is done (test it the usual way: a skewer comes out clean when poked into the centre, and the surface of the sponge bounces back when you poke it with a finger).

6) When the cake is almost done (you'll have to eyeball this), make the topping: melt the butter in a small saucepan, add everything else but the almonds and extra tablespoon of cream and stir until everything's well-mixed. Boil for a minute on medium heat, then take off the heat and stir in the almonds and the last tablespoon of cream.

7) Poke a few shallow holes in the surface of the cake with a toothpick or skewer before spreading the almond topping on evenly, and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.

8) Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before freeing it from your springform pan and serving: this cake is delicious cold, but is DELICIOUS warm.

Optional: pour out some good strong coffee to have with your cake, and invite some friends or family to fika.

Again, correct me if my (haphazard) Swedish is wrong!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Rainbow Mug Cake- Recipe/ Blog Carnival Entry

Are you excited? I'm excited.

This week I've been a little subdued thanks to a rather nasty virus that rendered me incapable of doing anything other than rolling around (on one occasion on the floor having passed out) and going 'uuuuurgh...' for at least two days, and then turned me into a zombie for a further two. However my spirits were lifted when, in between listlessly watching endless cat videos on YouTube (something I always do when I'm ill), I checked my emails and found one from Whittard.

It was entitled 'Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival- You're Invited!'

I sat up- and then promptly sank back again after a headrush- but the grin was still on my face. A challenge! And cake! A cake challenge!

Whittard of Chelsea are running a Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival at the moment, after the success of the afternoon tea blogging carnival that I entered last time. My eyes travelled wistfully towards the direction of the kitchen from my duvet fortress on the couch. 'Must... make... cake!' I thought. Alas, I had to wait until I was well enough to stand for a few minutes, let alone be able to taste-test my own creation. Thankfully a few days on, here I am.

So! Mug cake. A cake made in a mug, cooked in the microwave, to create a handy portion of cake-for-one. My task was to come up with a recipe for the Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival. There was only ever one option for me to try- something I've actually wanted to try for a while now. Without further ado, from the creator of rainbow sundae cupcakes and maker of rainbow layer cake, Tashcakes! brings you...

rainbow mug cake

... Rainbow mug cake.

Here we go!


-4tbsp self raising flour
-1tbsp cornflour
-2tbsp caster sugar
-1 egg
-3tbsp milk
-3tbsp oil
-1/2tsp vanilla
-pinch of salt
-Food colouring (I used gel paste rather than the liquid stuff for bolder colours)


1) Put all the dry ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth.

2) Evenly divide the cake batter between six bowls, and colour them with your food colouring.

3) Spoon each colour into a separate plastic sandwich bag.

4) One by one, snip off the corners of the sandwich bags, and squeeze layers of colours into a regular-sized microwave-proof mug. 

5) Random rainbow smiley face not intentional and optional.

6) Let your batter sit for a minute, because you've beaten it up a fair amount through mixing and colouring, and the gluten in the flour will have started to get tough- you want it to relax a bit. Then pop your mug in the microwave and cook it on high for a minute to a minute and a half (all microwaves act slightly differently especially according to wattage, so check after a minute). Don't cook it for too much longer, or your cake will be rubbery.
7) Once your cake is springy and cooked, remove it and let it cool for another minute because it'll be molten hot straight out of the microwave- it'll look scarily puffy at first and then collapse a bit, but that's normal. When it's ready to eat, top with your favourite frosting, whipped cream or ice-cream, shake on some sprinkles, and enjoy!
rainbow mug cake 2

Now that's definitely cheered me up after days of chicken broth, Lucozade and Farley's Rusks (yes, I still eat those).
rainbow cake in a mug

Happy baking! Er, microwaving!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Sandakan Cow Pat Tarts/ UFO Tarts- Recipe

((UPDATE: my second attempt at Sandakan cow pat tarts were made with my new, improved recipe, follow the link to check them out!))

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My mum grew up in Sandakan, Malaysia, although her immediate relatives now live in Kota Kinabalu. We often go to KK as a family to visit my jia po, aunt and uncle, but a few months ago my mum and dad went by themselves as I couldn't afford to visit this year (quite handily leaving me free to keep an eye on our cats).

During their time there, my aunt found and bought some cow pat tarts for mum and dad. These suspicious-sounding cakes were first created in Sandakan, apparently in 1955, by Hainanese master baker Fu Ah On, when he burned his usual tarts a bit. His friends decided that they looked a bit like cow poo, and thus the nickname was born and stuck. In any case, mum knew I'd be up for the challenge of re-creating them, and reported back to me with her findings.

Cow pat tarts are basically flat, biscuit-like cakes with a dollop of custard in the centre, finished off with some piped and then oven-browned meringue around the custard- much more delicious than the name implies! It can come in two styles: cow pat-style and UFO-style. I decided to try both styles.

Well, it's pretty obvious which ones are the cow dung piles!

The UFOs usually have a thinner meringue cross on top, but I didn't have the right sizes piping nozzle, so I just left them open. My recipe for them- adapted from many others after a bit of research- is really simple.

How to Make Them:

The cake part of it is my bog-standard Victoria cake recipe scaled down to one egg, baked in a shallow bun tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top and cooked through. Once you've made the tart bases and they're cooling, make the custard and meringue.

The custard is 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of caster sugar, 2 level teaspoonfuls of custard powder, half a teaspoon of vanilla and 5 tablespoonfuls of milk. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and microwave in two lots of 30 second bursts, until the custard is thick and dollopy (but not thick enough to be pipeable). Leave it to cool: when it cools down it'll thicken even more, and it has a round in the oven to come, so don't cook it for too long.

The meringue is the leftover 1 egg white, 2 tablespoonfuls of caster sugar, a pinch of salt and a teaspoonful of cornflower, whisked up to stiff peak stage like a regular French meringue.

Now start assembling your cow pats and UFOs! Pipe a wide ring in the centre of each tart as a guide, scoop some custard into the middle, and either cover in a poop-like swirl or build up some stacked rings. If you like, make an 'X' on top of your UFOs with more meringue.

Finally, pop back in the oven at the same temperature for 10 minutes until they just start to brown up (some people grill them, but I prefer baking because then the meringue gets a nice crispy shell all over).


According to mum, I found the wrong resources when it came to judging just how flat the tarts needed to be. Apparently they should be made truly flat by dolloping the tart batter straight onto a flat tray. The people I'd based my tarts on had made them a bit thicker, so that's what I did too, and used our ancient bun pan:

I can't wait to try these again, and make them even more like the ones that the bakeries in Sandakan and KK sell. Still, everyone agreed that even though mine could have been more authentic, they were still delicious. Crispy on the outside, gooey and creamy on the inside. <3

Not bad for a dessert named after cow poo. ;)

Guy's Birthday Cake

When my dad's colleague's wife requested a cake for her father because she'd heard I make pretty cakes, I was quite flattered, and excited once again to get to do more cake decorating!

Only one problem: I've been so obsessed with using bright colours and edible sparkle that I'd pretty much forgotten how to go about decorating a cake for a man. Whatever would I do without my edible glitter and pink sprinkles?

Aside from the message on the cake, I was pretty much given free rein over colour and design. I made the requested Victoria sponge, jammed it up, covered it in fondant, and stared at my blank canvas, taunting me with possibilities upon my budget cake decorating turntable.

Well, a piped border, that was a given. And I already had the message for the top. But I usually decorated with piped roses and vines- would that be too feminine?

Well, this is what I ended up creating:

I figured roses may be a bit too frou-frou for a guy I'd never met before, but a few cherry blossoms wouldn't look out of place. I think I got the balance right- and even though it killed me, I managed to resist reaching for my pixie-like vial of iridescent edible glitter. In any case, the recipient was happy, which is the main thing.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Rosh Hashana: Symbolism, Cake and Honeyed Things

Happy Rosh Hashana, everyone: it's Jewish New Year!

I'm so freaking lucky. Being half Chinese, Jewish and English. I get to celebrate three different New Years festivals.


We eat apples, pomegranates and honey during Jewish New Year. Why? Because the round apples symbolise the world, and honey is for wishing for a sweet new year.

As for pomegranates, they have lots of seeds in, right? Well, all of those seeds are for reminding us about the good things we've done in the year (a stark contrast to the up-and-coming festival of Yom Kippur, where we atone for every crappy thing we've done in the year).

One of the most well-known foods eaten during Rosh Hashana is honey cake. This year, after last year's disaster, I used a recipe for Devonshire Honey Cake on to be on the safe side. I can't remember the last time I followed a recipe, but I decided to give this one a go and do it by the book. More or less. I did take the liberty of adding a teaspoon of vanilla and scaling the recipe up for a large bundt pan.

It was buttery, fluffy and almost butterscotchy (thanks to the honey and muscavado sugar being boiled before being added to the other ingredients). Two thumbs up!

I did, of course, have a bit of an experiment with something else. I decided to make fig and goat's cheese tartlets with honey and balsamic vinegar. They turned out AWESOME. All you need is some pre-made ready rolled puff pastry, figs, soft round goat's cheese, a drizzle of honey and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

I drizzled a little extra honey just before serving too. Next time I'll take the time to make a balsamic vinegar reduction too, now that I know that this whole thing works. Oozing gooey creamy tangy cheese, sweet and juicy fruit with crunchy seeds, buttery flaky pastry... heaven. And so simple, too!

I also made a non-cheese one for mum, who's not so keen on goat's cheese:

Isn't it pretty?

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Birthday Cake for Siu Yen

I went to visit my friend Siu Yen in Birmingham this weekend to belatedly celebrate her birthday with a few of her friends- and I provided cake.

I used edible pearl lustre spray for the frosty effect:

One of my cats Sheba was playfully headbutting my leg whilst I was piping the drapes, so they came out a little shaky, but still not bad for my second attempt ever at string work.

Plus surprise pink buttercream in the centre!

Siu Yen's boyfriend Cam helped to orchestrate sneaking the cake into the restaurant we were all going to beforehand, where it was brought out after the meal.

Happy birthday, buddy!