Big Banana Bliss Cake

Gareth provided for the troops this week with the most enormous banana cake ever seen at Cake Club, nestling on the most enormous plate ever seen at Cake Club. Wholesome yet sugary with a crunchy nut topping, this was a definite winner, and seconds went down the gullets of the hungry cake clubbers even more quickly than the first helping. Gareth’s recipe follows.

Big Banana Bliss Cake
(a.k.a. Simple Banana Cake ex Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’)

Batter
160 g softened butter
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1¼ cups mashed ripe banana
A few drops of vanilla essence
300 g plain flour
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon mixed spice
¾ cup milk mixed with 1½ tsp lemon juice (or ¾ cup buttermilk)

Topping
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons self-raising flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
125 g softened butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Butter and flour a 24 cm spring-form cake tin then line with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, banana and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture alternating with the milk. Spoon batter into tin. Combine the topping ingredients and scatter over top of uncooked batter.

Bake for around 45 mins or until cooked in centre. Cool a little in the tin on a wire rack then release from the tin to cool completely before storage. Delicious!

Published in: on July 10, 2012 at 18:45  Leave a Comment  

Engadiner Nusstorte

Katarina stepped up to the table this week with a nutty delicacy from mountainous Switzerland. She described it as a “calorie bomb” and she wasn’t wrong, but it was exactly what we all needed to kick start a frosty day at work. Second servings went down even quicker than firsts, and a good time was had by all.

“A dense caramel walnut pastry cake- think of it like a pecan pie with a lid! Traditional from the Graubunden part of Switzerland. The crust is quite biscuit like.”

Ingredients

Pastry
350 g flour
250 g butter
200 g sugar
1 pinch salt
1 lemons, rind of
1 eggs

Filling

500 g sugar
500 g walnuts
500 g cream
50 g tbsps honey
1 egg yolks

Directions

Cream butter and sugar.
Mix flour, rind, salt and egg on high speed until a dough is formed.
Divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3 parts, wrap well in foil and chill for minimum 1/2 hour.
In the meantime, heat the sugar for the filling until it caramelises to a very light brown.
Heat the cream (can be in microwave) and add it to the caramel, stirring rapidly.
Add the honey, heat until it reaches a rolling boil.
Add nuts and stir well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Mix well and allow to cool.

Roll out the larger of the pastry dough rolls and fit into a greased 24cm springform pan to cover the base and sides.
Pour in the cooled filling.
Roll out the remaining dough to form a lid for the cake. Put on top of the filling and join the edges well.
Paint the top of the cake lightly with whisked egg yolk.

Cook the cake at about 180 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool. Do not remove outside of tin until cool! The cake should be totally cold before serving – I put mine in the fridge on the base, and only take it off the base once it’s cold and the filling has set. Otherwise if the filling is still hot the bottom will sag when you pick it up.

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 20:00  Leave a Comment  

Quake cakes

The Cake Club took a brief time out to make cakes and biscuits for the hungry and hard working of Christchurch, but a few leftovers nonetheless made their way into the tea room on a Tuesday morning.

Robyn’s rhubarb and ginger muffins were some of the tastiest misshapes this cake club has ever seen, while the odd biscuit by Pen got snapped up pretty quickly.

Rhubarb and walnut muffins

1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Whisk altogether and then add:

1 1/2 cups finely chopped raw rhubarb (about 5 stalks, but peel off any outer skins that come loose).

Sift the following together in separate bowl and then add to the mix:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Spoon into 12-18 well-greased (or paper-lined) muffin pans, or make mini muffins or Jumbo muffins for pudding with ice cream and custard.

Bake at 160° for 20-30 minutes.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 18:09  Leave a Comment  

Burns Cake-Supper

January 26th this year happened to fall on a Tuesday, and what better way to celebrate the great Scots poet Rabbie Burns than with cake in his honour? The Sweet Haggis was piped in on kazoos, Irn-Bru and whisky made the rounds and shortbread and cranachan finished everyone off nicely.

Sweet Haggis

Pen borrowed the cake recipe from here for the basis of the sweet haggis.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag chocolate buttons
1 bag mini-marshmallows
1 bag chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a 23 cm round cake tin.
Pour boiling water over oats, mix well, and allow to cool.
In a larger bowl, combine the butter, sugars, eggs, flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add the cooled oatmeal mixture, and stir to combine.
Pour batter into pan.
Bake for 35 minutes and allow to cool.

Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Add the chocolate, marshmallows and nuts, and stir to combine. Microwave as much of the mixture as you can fit into the microwave, for just long enough to make the chocolate and marshmallows go sticky. Squash the entire mixture into your substitute sheep’s stomach – clingfilm/gladwrap can be used if you can find a wide enough roll – and leave overnight to congeal. Pipe in the haggis and enjoy!

Recipes for Shortbread and Cranachan to follow.

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 20:32  Leave a Comment  

Cake-Off Challenge: Praline meringue layer cake

The third and final cake to be tasted and tested in Round 2 of the 2010 Christmas Cake-Off Challenge was Gareth’s praline meringue layer cake, with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, and a mixed berry and Cointreau coulis. He earns extra points by putting down one large cake, disappearing back to the kitchen and returning with a second plate filled with mini praline meringue layer cakes, when he saw how many hungry Cake Clubbers had turned up eager for the tasting session.

Guest Judge, Lord Forrester of Governor’s Bay, was beginning to suspect that he couldn’t fit much more cake in in one session, but nonetheless devoured his slice with great satisfaction, adding:

Good meringue – crisp and chewy. Real praline taste. That was delicious. Thank you contestants, that was a remarkable experience.

Other comments from the assembled tasters included, “Beautiful,” and “A spectacular ending to the round.”

Vote for Gareth’s praline meringue layer cake in the 2010 Cake-Off Round 2 Poll.

Published in: on December 14, 2010 at 19:59  Leave a Comment  

Cake-Off Challenge: White Chocolate Christmas Cake

The second of the Christmas Cake-Off 2010 Challenge Cakes to be tasted on this fine December morning was the white chocolate Christmas cake by Robyn, topped with macadamia and pistachio caramel. Cake Clubbers were lucky to see this cake, as Robyn’s resident teenagers nearly carried it off and devoured it before she could get it out of the house.

Guest Judge, Lord Forrester of Governor’s Bay, had this to say about the cake:

Good crackle on the nuts. Traditional dried fruit Christmas cake taste. Would sell well in Marks and Spencer.*

Other comments from the assembled tasters included “Quite delicious,” and succintly, “Chewy crunch.”

Vote for Robyn’s white chocolate Christmas cake in the 2010 Cake-Off Round 1 Poll.

* For the non-Poms: Marks and Spencer

Published in: on December 7, 2010 at 19:10  Leave a Comment  

Nutty Orange Pumpkin Cake

One of our newest members has been proving her mettle of late, this week serving up a culinary delight with not just one but two titian ingredients never before used as the basis of Cake Club concoctions. This monster proved a great success with the cakers and disappeared in double quick time; combined with nuts and a healthy icing top, it came in line for multiple compliments to the chef for both aesthetic and appetizing attributes. Robyn’s report follows.

Ingredients
300 g butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
2 tbsp grated orange ring
4 eggs
3 cups grated pumpkin
1/2 cup mixed nuts (originally macadamia nuts) finely chopped
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp oil

Cream butter, sugar and orange ring, add eggs and beat well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into two well greased or lined baking tins (20-22 cm). Bake for 35-40 mins at 175°C, then cool on a wire rack.

Sour cream orange frosting
3 cups icing sugar
2 tsp grated orange rind
orange juice
orange liqueur (optional – Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
toasted nuts for decoration

Blend all icing ingredients (except nuts) to a spreadable consistency. Cover one cake, then layer with the other cake and cover with remaining icing. Sprinkle with nuts.

The Cake Club were also very taken with the cake box in which Robyn’s cake was delivered; complete with snap lock lid and cake slice, it aroused some jealousy and also the suggestion that the club acquire their own box, and pass it round to the next baker on the list. This would, of course, mean finishing the cake completely without fail every week, so that there are no leftovers to complicate the box relay. So, no problems there.

Published in: on October 20, 2010 at 19:26  Leave a Comment  

Brownies

Another record breaking turnout today at Cake Club, but fortunately Chris had risen to the task in style, providing a large chocolate brownie. He declared that it had no sugar or butter, or indeed, any calories in the recipe, but cracked up before he could be shown the door and then confessed that in fact it was the least healthy cake to cross the threshold of the tea room in recent months. He was right. It was delicious. His report follows.

Brownies!

1 cup melted butter
1.5 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2-4 Tbsp hazelnuts

Mix the butter, vanilla and sugar, add in eggs one at a time.

Sift cocoa, flour, hazelnuts (optional, of course) and salt together in a separate bowl.

Mix together, and prepare for a workout if you stir by hand.

Bake in oven at 175°C for 35-40 min. I baked these for about 45 min.

We also have a bonus photo today, depicting Olivier demonstrating quite how powerfully sugary this brownie mixture was.

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 21:47  Leave a Comment  

Moroccan Honey and Mint Cake

Nic’s comment that it was about time we had something that wasn’t chocolate flavour was met with howls of derision, but the crowd conceded that the cake looked delicious despite the lack of cocoa beans and the mild fear of a sweet cake with the word “mint” in the name. It took some effort (mental and physical) to slice this one into the necessary 25 pieces for a cake club widening at the member list as well as the waist line*, but it was well worth it. Nic’s report follows.

Cake

160g butter
310g sugar
1.5 tsp fresh chopped mint
6 eggs
230g dessicated coconut
210g self-raising flour

Preheat oven to 150°C
Beat butter, sugar and mint until they begin to change colour (don’t cream until light and fluffy as you want the cake to be quite dense).
Add small quantities of egg, coconut and flour, beating well between each addition. Repeat until ingredients are used up.
Line a cake tin (spring-form 20cm) with baking paper. Pour in batter, bake for 1-1.5 hrs until a skewer comes out clean from centre. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 mins.

Syrup

While cake is cooking make syrup. Place 200ml water, 180g sugar and 1.5 cups chopped mint into a saucepan. Bring to the boil while stirring.
Remove from heat and cool for 30-45 mins. Strain through a sieve.
While cake is still in the tin prick loads of holes in it with a skewer. Pour over the mint syrup evenly and allow to soak in.

Turn the oven up to 170°C.
Put 75g butter, 180g honey and 180g flaked almonds in a pan and heat gently until they are melted together. Remove from heat and immediately spread over the cake.
Put the cake back in the oven and cook for ~15min until the topping is lightly browned (take care it doesn’t burn). Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the tin for 20-30 min. Take the cake from the tin and remove the paper while it is still warm.

* Mathematical modelling shows that as the member list gets longer, the slices of cake get thinner, and the rate of increase of waistlines slows proportionately. This can be avoided by recruiting two bakers per week, or by grabbing seconds before latecomers arrive in the tea room.

Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 21:47  Leave a Comment  

Chocolate Brick

This week’s Cake Club was moved at short notice to the afternoon tea break, which meant that members were even hungrier than usual. Fortunately, Helen provided a cake so solid that gravity itself distorted around the tea table, and despite the record-equalling turn out of 17 happy faces, a few slices were left over at the end. This is not to say that the cake was not delicious, I should add, and many people valiantly tried to force a second helping down, although common sense dictated otherwise. Helen’s report follows.

Not long after I bought my first house I decided to make a chocolate cake for my friends. At this point I didn’t know that the thermostat in my oven was broken. The recipe I was using said to cook the cake for 45 minutes. After 20 I could smell burning!

As I was scraping the burnt cake out of the tin to throw it away I absent-mindedly licked my fingers…and it tasted goooood! The bitter, burnt top of the cake actually tasted really good together with the gooey chocolate middle; so I decided to rescue the cake and this is what I came up with.

Apologies to whoever provided the original recipe… an unfortunate event (which cost our insurance company around £50,000) means that the book that this came from is no longer with us!

Cake
200g Plain chocolate
140g Butter

5 Eggs (separated)

200g Caster sugar

90g Plain flour

150g Chocolate chips

Break / cut the chocolate and butter into pieces and melt in a glass bowl with the sugar over a pan of hot (but not boiling) water. Cool slightly then add the egg yolks, mix, then add the flour (or floor as I wrote in my original notes!).

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold half into the chocolate mixture and then the other half (being careful not to squash all the air out). Mix in the chocolate chips, pour it all into a 20cm round tin and burn!

(The original recipe suggests 180°C for 45mins – so feel free to try this and see if you get a good cake – but I’d suggest about 250°C and wait till you can really smell it!)

If you end up with something that looks like a cake try melting 100g of chocolate, 75ml of cream, and 50g of butter over a pan and using it to ice the cake, otherwise…

Mortar
200g Plain chocolate
75ml Cream
50g Butter
50g Walnut pieces
100g Currents

Melt the chocolate, cream and butter over a pan of hot water.

Meanwhile break the cake into pieces (bigger than crumbs, smaller than chunks). Mix the currants and walnuts with the cake pieces.

When the chocolate mix is melted mix it with the cake, fruit and nuts and mash it all together with your hands (great for little, or big, kids who like getting messy).

Line a loaf tin (or any other container of any shape you like) with greaseproof paper and squash the mixture into it. Now bung it in the fridge and wait for it to resemble a brick.

To demonstrate quite how excellently this cake resembles a brick, we include this video. Make sure your speakers are turned up.

Back Story

My friends reported that they loved the ‘cake’ but they did struggle to find a knife strong enough to cut it! It was these friends who christened this creation ‘brick’. They also suggested that bricks should be used for building things so several years later I presented them with a model of the Tower of London. The ingredients list is not for the faint hearted, nor those on a diet.

The near-finished item:

Published in: on June 13, 2010 at 22:01  Leave a Comment