Cider and Spice Cake

I've had a very nice French lady staying with me . She came with a party from our twin town in France. I bought some wine and a nice bottle of cider, only to discover she didn't drink any alcohol! So I decided to use some of the cider in a cake.

A nice easy cake to make; am not sure where I found the recipe as it was scribbled on a piece of paper.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                Grease a 20cm square cake tin.

Cream 125g butter and 125g caster sugar together till nice and fluffy. Mix together 225g sr flour, 1 tspn bicarb and 1 tspn mixed spice.
Fold half of the flour mixture into the batter then add 200ml cider and mix well.
Stir in the rest of the flour and pour batter into the tin.
Bake for about 35-40 mins.
Cool the cake in the tin then sprinkle some caster sugar mixed with a little more mixed spice over the top.

It's a nice moist cake with a soft texture. The cider flavour comes through well and the spice was a nice background flavour. Adding the spice to the sugar topping gave an extra spicy boost to the cake. 

You could used other spices - whichever you like best, and you could add cubed apple to the cake.

A tasty, easy, teatime treat.


Strawberry, Ricotta and Mascarpone Tart

The friend I've mentioned before on here, who owns a tea shop, came over at the weekend and brought me some strawberries grown locally. I wanted to make a tart with some of them, so found a French recipe in a folder for this one.

The pastry is 'une pâte sablée', a rich sweetened shortcrust, but it's made in a processor or mixer. The filling is just a mixture of mascarpone, ricotta and icing sugar and the whole is topped with sliced strawberries.

For the pastry - 1 egg, 200g flour, 125g butter, 75g caster sugar, 50g ground almonds, 1 tspn almond essence [opt], pinch salt.

For the cream - 250g each of mascarpone and ricotta and 100g icing sugar

Topping - punnet of strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven 200c/gas6          You need a 23cm tart tin

Put all the ingredients for the pastry in a blender and mix till blended. Bring together into a ball, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Mix the cheeses and icing sugar together in a bowl.

Take pastry out of fridge and roll out to fit the tart tin. Bake for 20 mins till light golden colour.

When cold, spoon the cream into the pastry case and decorate with the strawberries.

Photography by my daughter!
It was a delicious ending to a family meal. The filling wasn't too sweet and had a lovely soft texture. The slightly sweet pastry was crisp and contrasted well with the filling, and the strawberries were delicious, really tasting like strawberries. A nice simple but delicious dessert.


Caramel Chocolate Cake

I always seem to find something I need to use up in my store cupboard, and this time it was a tin of Carnation Caramel just coming to its 'use by' date.
I love anything caramel, so decided to use it as a filling and topping for a cake. I know it's very sweet, but I took it to a coffee morning to share the sweetness!

It uses oil instead of butter, so perhaps that makes it a bit healthier!

For the cake:

Preheat oven 180C/gas4               Grease and base line 2x18cm sandwich tins.

Sieve together 175g sr flour, 21/2 tbspn cocoa powder and 1 tspn bicarb. Stir in 150g caster sugar.
In a jug  - put 150ml vegetable oil [I used sunflower] and 150ml milk, 2 eggs and 1 tspn vanilla extract and beat together.
Beat 2 tbspn of the caramel till smooth and add to the egg mixture. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well. [It's a wet mixture]
Pour into the tins and bake for 20-25mins till risen and firm. Cool the cakes in the tin, then turn onto a wire rack.

For the icing:

Melt 125g dark chocolate [I used 70%] in a microwave or over simmering water. Add the rest of the tin of caramel and 1 tspn vanilla extract and beat together till smooth. Add 1 tbspn sieved icing sugar and mix together.

Put one of the cakes on a plate and spread half of the icing on top. Add the second cake and cover the top with the rest of the icing. Leave to set.

I sprinkled a bit more icing sugar on the top. The cake has a lovely soft, moist texture and is a good contrast to the smooth caramel filling. Yes the filling is sweet, but the dark chocolate counteracts some of the sweetness and gives it a lovely flavour. A nice treat with a cuppa.


Maple, Parsnip and Apple Cake

I love carrot cake, and the other day I was out with a friend and spotted another vegetable cake, this time with parsnip in it, so I wanted to make one.
I have a friend who has a lovely little tea room, and she gave me this recipe - it's very popular in her shop.

For the cake you need - 175g butter or margarine, 200g demerara sugar, 100ml maple syrup, 3 eggs, 250g sr flour and 2 tspn baking powder, 2 tspn mixed spice, 250g parsnip, peeled and grated,1 medium eating apple, grated, zest and juice of an orange, icing sugar to dust the top.

Preheat oven 180C                     Grease and line the bottoms of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins.

Melt the butter, sugar and syrup gently in a pan. Allow to cool a bit then beat in the eggs. Stir in the flour and baking powder and the spice.
Add the parsnip, apple and orange. Pour into the tins and bake for 25-30 mins.
Cook in tins for 5 mins then take cakes out and cool on a wire rack.
Sandwich the cakes together with a vanilla butter cream or mascarpone or even whipped double cream, and dust the top with icing sugar.

For the vanilla butter cream you need 125g butter, 250g sieved icing sugar, about 2 tspn milk and 1 tspn vanilla extract. Beat the butter and icing sugar till creamy - add a little milk to help, then add 1 tspn vanilla extract and beat in.
Put one of the cakes on a cake plate then spread the butter cream on top. Add the second cake and dust with icing sugar.

 You couldn't tell that there was any parsnip in it, just an flavour of something elusive. It has a light texture and is moist with a nice spicy note. A good edition to a cake repertoire. Maple syrup is quite pricey, so you could use golden syrup instead.

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