I’m a big fan of using dried fruits in cakes – just look at all the sultanas and apricots I’ve featured before- namely with a touch of alcohol! but it’s only just recently that I have discovered freeze dried fruits. Have you tried them? They’re available all over the place but most often as a cake topper in the 100’s & 1000’s aisle.
Once you try them you kind of want to nosh on them all the time. They have this really intense burst of flavour. I think it’s due to the way they are made. Fresh fruit is frozen and placed in a chamber where it’s vacuum sealed and heat is applied. I don’t really understand the finer details. All I know is that they taste mighty fine when 80-90% of the water is removed. You can read all about it on Paradisefruits website.
So that’s when I thought they’d be perfect in a cake. So I decided to come up with a raspberry cake recipe to be exact. And they do taste great. One big reason they work so well in baking is because they’re so light they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake like heavier fruits can.
Raspberry cake recipe
- 200ml (1 cup)sunflower oil – or any other flavourless oil like vegetable
- 210g (1cup) Caster sugar
- 210g(1 ½ cups) Self Raising flour
- 6 eggs- separated
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp vanilla essence (or raspberry essence)
- 5 tbsp Freeze dried raspberries + more for topping
- 100g icing sugar
- pink food colouring
How to make the cake
- Grease and line a baking tray with silicon paper and pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
- Place the sugar, oil, egg yolks and vanilla essence in a bowl and stir.
- Sieve the flour and baking powder over the mix and combine thoroughly.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they form peaks or they don’t fall out when you turn the bowl upside down.
- Fold the egg whites into the mix until no white is visible then lastly add the freeze dried raspberries and combine.
- Pour the mix into the baking tray and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cake bounces back when you press it lightly with your finger.
- Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
- Make up some runny icing and add pink colouring then pour it over the completely cool cake. Sprinkle a few more freeze dried raspberries on top and leave to set.
We took this cake with us this week during half term when we visited some friends in Hertfordshire. It’s always good to have friends that understand why a chunk of the cake is missing when you arrive (well I have to take shots before it all gets eaten don’t I?) The general consensus was it was a moreish cake- especially where the icing was thickest and when you have a dollop of ice cream on the side. It’s also exceptionally light as it has oil in place of butter. Even Beau – who never lets me take her photo couldn’t wait to get in on the action!
* Posted in partnership with Paradisefruits.co.uk, all views are my own.
I love a good tart. They may take a lot of time and effort to prepare and peel and chop and blind bake but they are SO worth the effort. This is the Pear tart recipe I used when I took dessert to my sister’s house on Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish New year) after synagogue a couple of weeks ago. I knew she was making a meat meal which meant pud had to be dairy free. I used Tomar which is a kosher, dairy free alternative to butter. It’s actually a vegetable fat and makes a pretty good pastry – if I do say so myself. We had a slice or two with a dairy free ice cream made with soya – have you ever tried soya ice-cream? It’s seriously creamy!
All that’s left to say is that with a slither of marzipan in this Pear pie and a tummy full of delish Chollent (thanks Shell)our New Year got off to a really good start!
Dairy Free Pear Tart
- 175g plain flour
- 75g butter/Tomar vegetable margarine
- 1 egg yolk (large)
- 1 tbsp water
- 75g marzipan
- 2-3 apples – peeled, cored and sliced
- 25g butter/Tomar
- 4 tbsp Apricot jam
- 25g golden caster sugar
- 4 pears, sliced with the core removed
- Heat oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
- To make the pastry: Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine with your hands. Be careful not to over mix as this will end in a really tough pastry. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and roll out the pastry so it’s nice and thin. Place it in the pie dish (Mine was a 23cm Pyrex dish). Scrunch up a piece of baking paper and place it over the pastry then add baking beans on top (you can use rice or dried beans if you don’t have ceramic baking beans but the ceramic ones do add more heat) Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove any excess pastry from the edge of the dish.
- To make the filling peel, core and chop the apples and place in a large frying pan with the butter and sugar until they become soft. Drain any excess liquid away then press through a sieve so you get a puree. Place back in the saucepan and add the jam till it is all combined. Leave to simmer till some of the liquid has evaporated and the puree is nice and thick. Set aside to cool a little.
- Roll out the marzipan so it’s very thin then place it over the bottom of the pastry case.
- Spread the puree over the marzipan then add the thinly sliced pear in a decorative pattern.
- Once filled bake for 25 minutes until the pear is golden brown.
- Heat up the apricot jam so it is nice and runny then as soon as you take the pie out of the oven spread the jam over the top of the whole pie while it’s still hot using a silicon pastry brush. Leave to cool a little before serving with a big dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Pumpkin cake pops
I love cake pops. They may be a bit fiddly to make but the look on peoples faces (and when I say people I mean Beau and Darcey) when they see them is worth every minute. We have a bit of an obsession with Halloween in our house and the only reason for this is that it’s my birthday on Halloween. This means anything pumpkin/bat/ghost or witch related is a real draw for us.
These cute little pumpkin cake pops for Halloween aren’t hard to make when you know the little tricks(or treats) which I’ll share with you now.
You will need:
- A cake
- buttercream (enough to make the crumbs stick so only around 50g butter/50g icing sugar)
- orange candy melts
- black food colour (professional pastes work best)
- cake pop sticks
- Green sugarpaste
How to make pumpkin cake pops
- Take a cake and turn it into crumbs in a food processor. A cake that has been sitting around a day or two is fine (not that we ever have cake sitting around!)
- Add a small amount of buttercream.
- Mix the crumbs and buttercream in the food processor until the mixture forms a large ball.
- Roll out little balls then make a hole in the top. This is where the stalk of the pumpkin will sit.
- To create ridges in the side of the cake pops use a spoon to create dents all around the pumpkin shape.
- Heat a few candy melts then coat the end of each stick in turn. Place that end in the bottom of the cake pop. Chill the cake pops in the fridge for at least 20 minutes so that they set hard and can be handled without falling apart. This is essential otherwise the balls fall off the sticks into the candy melts.
- Make pumpkin stalks from the green sugarpaste. Set aside to harden while you dip the cake pops.
- Heat the rest of the candy melts in a glass bowl set over saucepan of boiling water till they are runny like melted chocolate. You can add a small amount of sunflower oil to candy melts to make the liquid thinner and easier to apply to the cake pops. Don’t ever add water as it will make the candy melts sieze up and you have to start all over again. Dip each cake pop in until the whole pumpkin is covered.
- Place the cake pops in a glass full of sugar making sure you allow enough space that they won’t touch each other while setting. Add the green stalks while the candy melts are still wet.
- Leave the pops to dry and harden completely (at least an hour).
- Using a food only paint brush paint on a pumpkin face in black food colouring. Professional food colours come in a paste form and are much easier to use than supermarket bought colours.
- Once ready display in a bowl of sugar (so they stand up) ready for your trick or treaters.
This week it’s the Jewish festival of Succot. You can tell it’s Succot because we sit in a open building in the garden with fruit hanging from the roof and it ALWAYS rains! It’s kind of a Harvest festival with a lot of fruit taking centre stage. It will come as no surprise then that the traditional cake for this festival is Apple Strudel. I love an apple strudel. We used to have it all the time when we went to Tim’s mum for Sunday lunch so I thought I’d give it a go.
For all of two seconds I thought about making myown puff pastry. Then I came to my senses and used a spare pre-rolled pastry I had as ‘back up’ in the freezer. My excuse to Tim was that it was taking up valuable freezer space (I don’t think he bought it!)
Strudel is a little time consuming and fiddly to make but it’s well worth the effort. I love the cinnamony, appley, nuttyness in a strudel so it was good that I could design it to my exact tastes. Tim loved it and as my harshest critic I took that to mean it’s a winner in the MT household and will be making a re-appearance again soon. Winter warmer anyone?
Apple Strudel Recipe
- Puff pastry
- 700g cooking apples
- 25g unsalted butter
- 60g brown sugar
- 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cinnamon (according to taste. I like a lot)
- 50g sultanas- soaked in boiled water for 10 minutes to soften them
- 50g walnuts -cut into chunks
- 4 tbsp apricot jam
- flaked almonds to top
- Pre-heat your oven to 230C. The oven needs to be hot so the butter is absorbed into the flour rather than melts and leaks out all over the place!
- To prepare the filling peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. I use cooking apples for a strudel as they have a more sour taste and work perfectly. Place in a large frying pan with the butter and sugar and cook for around 10 minutes till the apple starts to soften but not fall apart.
- While still in the frying pan sprinkle the cinnamon over the top of the apples and add the drained sultanas and walnuts. Stir for a minute to combine then place in a sieve to allow the excess liquid to drain away and cool down a little. We don’t want a soggy bottom now do we?
- The pastry needs to be rolled out into a large square or rectangle. Cut diagonal lines away from the centre area then place the filling over the centre. Tuck the top and bottom of the pastry over the filling then lift each diagonal strand of pastry over the filling in turn left then right then left and so on. Try to keep each strand close the the last so you have most of the strudel closed up. A little gap or two is fine as that will allow steam to escape but too many gaps and the whole thing will collapse!
- Carefully move the strudel onto a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and pop it in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
- A few minutes before the strudel is ready to come out of the oven heat up the apricot jam. I do this in the microwave in 30 second bursts. You want it to be runny.
- As soon as the strudel is out of the oven brush the apricot jam over the whole thing with a silicon pastry brush and sprinkle the chopped almonds liberally over the top.
- Enjoy with a big dollop of cream.
See you in the Succot
I got to make another cake for Free Cakes For Kids Bromley last week. It was a really good one. Sleeping Beauty for a 6 year old girl called Abigail.
I had been shooting cookies and cakes earlier in the week and as part of the step shots I needed to make up a cake mix. Never one to waste cake mix I quickly used what I didn’t need for the shoot for Abigail’s cake. But it was only a loaf tin size so I decided that a quick tray bake was needed to ensure there was enough cake to go around.
How to make a Sleeping Beauty cake
I used the loaf tin to create a bed, covering the cake in a crumb coating of buttercream and then a layer of white sugarpaste. I then made a pillow and valance using a shaping tool. To finish the bed I made a thin yellow blanket which I curved on the bottom edges so it looked softer.
The tray bake was also covered in a crumb coating and then that cake and the cake board were covered in a layer of green sugarpaste. This is a really good way to use less sugarpaste and get the cake covered quickly but if you’re anything like me it’s also a great way to get fingerprints and dents in the covered cake board! Still, I wanted a seamless look for this cake so I just smoothed those knocks out. I set the cakes towards the back of the board so there was room for the name. I like doing this as it looks different and more personal than shop bought cakes and leaves plenty of room for names and messages.
The bed was secured onto the tray bake with royal icing and then I made Sleeping Beauty. I used a little pink sugarpaste mixed with natural marzipan for the body parts (yes I ate more than I modelled!) and used sugarpaste for the rest. A flower embosser was used to decorate the dress and her shoes were adorned with pearls (aka decorative balls). For the hair I just rolled strands of yellow sugarpaste and stuck them in place with edible glue.
Abigail is disabled and is only able to eat through a feeding tube and I knew that the cake was going to be taken into school to celebrate her birthday with her class mates. She is however able to eat (and hopefully enjoy) buttercream so I had to find a way to ensure there was plenty of buttercream for the birthday girl. I came up with all sorts of ideas – make a hollow bed side cabinet that I could fill with buttercream, make grass using a piping bag and nozzle – which was my initial plan but once I had the rose nozzle in the bag I decided that roses all over the grass base was going to look prettiest.
Luckily, the name ‘Abigail’ just fitted onto the cake board perfectly so she was bedded into the buttercream roses with a few extras just for fun. Finally I added a few flowers and I finished just in time to collect the kids from school. I find it really difficult to decorate with sticky fingers scooping up buttercream and random sugarpaste flowers!
I was really happy with this cake. I delivered it as arranged to whom I thought was Abigail’s mum but it turned out to be a relative. (I thought she looked a bit confused by some random lady delivering a cake!) About an hour later I got a very enthusiastic phone call from Abigail’s mum to say a massive thank you for the cake. She absolutely loved it and I have to say that her phone call made my day. I’ve made cakes for lots of friends and family since I started decorating but the ones I make as a volunteer that are so well received just give me that warm and fuzzy feeling.
If you would like to volunteer and get that warm and fuzzy feeling then get in touch with your local group. Check out the Free Cakes For Kids website for more details.