Category Archives: Cakes

Shotgun And Chelsea Bun Club

Time for a little bit of a non-foodie detour!  About this time last year I saw a tweet.  It was about The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club… well, that sounded interesting, I thought! Basically, it’s a ladies only club that allows you to go along to an event, learn to shoot clay pigeons, and then have tea and cake afterwards.  I’d always been vaguely intersted in learning to shoot, my parents used to shoot when I was younger but I’d never even seen a gun before, let alone picked one up and shot one!

I signed myself up to go along to one in April at Coniston Shooting Grounds and I bloody loved it!  It was so much fun: exhilarating, instinctive and captivating! The instructor was absolutley brilliant, explaining exactly what you needed to do and talking you through it simply.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing at first, by the time we’d been to a few different stands I really felt I was getting the hang of it all.  And there was tea and cake on pretty vintage china at the end of it all!


Two weeks ago I went back to another Chelsea Bun Club at Conniston and, again, had an absolutley fantastic time.  It was just as much fun as I remembered and given it was only my second go I was absolutley gobsmacked when I won the best novice prize! It’s definitely something I’m going to keep doing, I’m waiting on tenterhooks for next year’s dates so I can see how many events I can fit in and am even looking into getting some private lessons.  It’s not often I take to something so readily and have the skills to back up my enjoyment but I’m really looking forward to developing my ‘beginner’s luck’ into some solid skills.

If any of you ladies have ever fancied having a go at shooting I cannot reccommend the Chelsea Bun Club highly enough.  It’s such a friendly, welcoming group.  No matter if you’ve been shooting for years or never even touched a gun you’ll fit right in.  It’s lovely to meet new people and chat about random things while doing something so totally different from my day to day!


Now, as my token, “It’s relevant to the blog, honest!” have a recipe for my Orange Bundt Cake that I took along to the last event!


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Filed under Cakes, Not Food

Chocolate Rapeseed Oil Cake

This Chocolate Rapeseed Oil Cake recipe was the result of a Clandestine Cake Club challenge.  The theme was Blind Date.  You had to bake a cake you had never baked or tasted before.  Now, this was a challenge in a lot of ways.  First, if I haven’t tasted a cake before it’s because I don’t think I’m going to like it.  Why would I bake something I won’t like?  Second, I like to have something reliable when baking for others.  I want to know how the recipe is going to work and what tweaks I might need to make to have something I’ll be proud of.  With this challenge I really was flying blind!

Chocolate Rapeseed Oil Cake

I hit upon Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake because she happend to have tweeted about it around that time.  I like chocolate but I had never tasted an olive oil based cake before.  However, there was the small issue that I don’t like olives.  I use olive oil all the time in cooking where I’ll never taste the oliveyness but I felt that this was one of those times where it would make a difference.  I happened to have a bottle of Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil just begging to be used.  I love the nutty flavour of rapeseed oil, it’s just gorgeous, and I thought this would compliment the almonds nicely.  I was right, it gives a gorgeous nutty flavour and really gives another dimension to the cake.  I’m really keen on trying to use this oil in more cooking in the future.  I think it has a lot of potential!

The end result is a gorgeous nutty, moist, brownie like cake which would be a perfect dinner party dessert cake.  (Imagine it piled up with raspberries or other summer fruits and served with lashings of whipped cream if you will!)  However, it also held its own as a simple cake without any adornment.  The rich chocolateyness of the cake means it really doesn’t need any help to be delicious and the decadent squidgy texture will certainly have you coming back for more!

Chocolate Rapeseed Oil Cake Washing Up

Serves 16

50g cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g ground almonds
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
150ml rapeseed oil (Yorkshire if you please!)
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5/190C and grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
– Put the cocoa powder in a mug then pour over the boiling water and the vanilla.  Mix together until you get a delicious looking chocolaty paste (don’t taste it, it’ll be gross!) Leave to cool while you do the rest.
– Mix the almonds, salt and bicarb together in a small bowl.
– In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, sugar and rapeseed oil.
– Use a handheld electric whisk to beat the sugar, eggs and oil until plae and thick.
– Add the cocoa paste to this mixture and beat in.
– Add the almond mixture and gently fold in until everything is totally combined.
– Pour the mixture intot he prepared tin and bake int he centre of the oven for 45-50 minutes.  It should look just set int he middle and a skewer will come out clean when it is cooked.
– Allow it to cook for 10 minutes in the tin then run a sharp knife (I actually always use a thin bone handled knife for this) round the edge fo the cake to loosen it.  Then unspring your tin and either leave to cool completely or serve warm with vanilla ice cream.



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Filed under Cakes, Dairy Free, Desserts, Easy, Gluten Free

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake

I made this cake back in November and I am sorry to say that it totally slipped my mind!  That is not to say that it’s not good.  I’m particularly proud of the Kalhua buttercream.  But life got in the way, as in inevitably does!  I’m going to try to have a bit of a catch up around these parts and get the drafts I’ve got littering the place behind the scenes sorted out.

Three Layer Coffee and Walnut Cake with Kahlua Buttercream

I was attending a Clandestine Cake Club event and the theme was Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.  I knew how I wanted to decorate my cake, with the teaparty itself, but what to bake for the cake inside? Then it hit me!  What’s madder than a coffee cake at a tea party?  Well, probably something, but it seemed like a cute idea!

Mad Hatter's Tea Party - Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake with Kalhua Buttercream Icing

I love a coffee and walnut cake.  It is one of my absolute favourites but I hadn’t actually baked one myself.  I decided to go with a classic sponge cake and simply add walnuts and espresso into the mix.  It worked a treat!

I do have a confession though, when I first turned the cakes out of their tins I thought I’d had a complete cake failure and they were a disaster.  I thought they hadn’t risen enough so I started to whip up a new cake to salvage this disaster.  I stacked the layers up in order to clear the decks, which was when  realised.  The cake was perfectly tall enough, I had just forgotten that with 3 layers the individul layers would be much thinner!

Mad Hatter's Tea Party - Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake with Kalhua Buttercream Icing

Serves 12

150g butter
150g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp strong espresso
150g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp kalhua
500g ready to roll icing, 250g white, 250g coloured with paste colours as you like (You won’t use all of the icing up but I always find a use for icing)

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C an grease three sandwich tins. I use silicone ones because they make turning out the cake so much easier.
– Put the butter and sugar in a food processor  and blitz until it is smooth and fluffy.
– Add the eggs one at a time down the funnel with the motor running.
– Add in the vanilla and espresso and continue to mix well.
– Add the flour, baking powder and walnuts and process until the flour and baking powder are totally worked in.  There should still be come chunky walnut bits.
– Divide the mixture evenly between your three cake tins.
– Bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Be careful to check them as they’re so thin.  If using more than one shelf in the oven it’s usually a good idea to switch them around half way through cooking so they bake more evenly.
– Remove from the oven and turn out to cook on wire racks.
– To make your buttercream mix the softened unsalted butter with the icing sugar and kalhua until smooth and creamy with no lumps left.
– To assemble your cake spread 1/3 of the buttercream on each of the layers as you stack it on your serving plate.
– Roll out the white icing into a circle and then drape this over the cake like a tablecloth.
– Use the remaining coloured icing to fashion teapots, teacups and plates.  I also used some other cake decorations to make ‘food’ for my teaparty.  One innovation I was particularly proud of was using popping candy for the tea in the teacups.  I knew that the moisture in the icing would dissolve the popping candy and leave a sticky tea coloured liquid behind.   Go nuts, use your imagination!

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Filed under Cakes, Easy

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I made this pineapple upside down cake for a Clandestine Cake Club event that just happened to be the same week as the first episode of Great British Bake Off. Now, here’s a confession, I hadn’t actually watched Bake Off before. However, so many people assumed I’d seen it and been inspired that I started watching and then, like the rest of the nation, became hooked!

The theme for the event was classic/ vintage/ retro cakes and I immediately thought of my mum’s 70s and 80s St Michael cookbooks and in particular this cake. Not that we ever used a recipe for making it when we were kids! It was a frequent feature and I still adore it. It’s a nice cake in that you can make it for dessert but it is equally at home as a cutting cake (you know, one on the side for cutting at!)

One thing I will not negotiate is that it must be served with cream of some kind. As a dessert it it sublime just slightly warm with vanilla ice cream. You can pipe the cream around it, as I did here, or just have a big bowl of whipped cream for dolloping! I’ve even served it with the suspiciously named ‘Topping’ when cream was unobtainable in Japan. It simply isn’t the same without some kind of cream, I’m afraid!

1 large tin pineapple rings
~13 glacé cherries
3 tbsp Demerara sugar
200g I salted butter plus about 1 tbsp extra for greasing
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp milk
Whipped cream!

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180C and well grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
– Drain the pineapple slices and place on kitchen towel while you make the cake mix.
– Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.
– Gradually add the eggs and the vanilla, mixing well between additions.
– Finally, add the flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly until totally combined.
– Add the milk and mix well.
– Make sure there is a good layer of butter on the base of your lined cake tin. Then sprinkle over the demerara sugar evenly.
– Arrange the pineapple slices and glacé cherries in the base of the tin.
– Pour over the cake batter and smooth to make a level cake.
– Bake for about 40 minutes in the centre of the oven until the wobble disappears and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
– Turn out onto a plate immediately and then leave to cool either completely or until just warm and serve with either whipped cream or ice cream.

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Filed under Cakes, Easy

Graveyard Cake

This was my Clandestine Cake Club cake for the Halloween and Bonfire Night event last night. I chose a Gingerbread cake with Speculoos icing and Speculoos gravestones. The dirt path is crushed Oreos. It wasn’t the most popular of cakes last night but we demolished it today at the office!!!


I made the Speculoos icing using some Speculoos paste my mum bought me in France. You could probably achieve the sameish effect by blitzing some Speculoos with your butter for the buttercream.


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Filed under Cakes, Easy

Four Layer Chocolate Cake with American Frosting

As this is my 300th post, apparently, I thought it suitable that I post one of my more impressive creations to date.  I baked it to practice a few different techniques and my colleagues were more than happy to be my test subjects!


That reads “Anna’s Chocolate Cake” for those in any doubt.  Piping skills was one of the things I wanted to work on.  Actually, I’ll be honest, the icing picked up a lot of crumbs and wasn’t as clean and as I wanted it to be so I thought I’d disguise it by putting a bunch of busy swirls and things on top and, incidentally, thought ‘great, I wanted to practice that!’


I had decided ages ago that I wanted to make a multilayer cake.  At about the same time my trusty victoria sponge tins decided to start parting with their nonstick atributes.  I decided to treat myself to 4 silicone ones so that I could make a multilayer cake without having to slice, which I am notoriously wonky at.  I think they were an excellent investment, I’m really happy with them so far.


I also thought I would give American Frosting a go.  My mother warned me that it was rather tricky stuff but I wanted that glorious clean, white look and the soft peaks and ripples really appealed to me.  It was, indeed, tricky.  Very very sticky and it lifted a lot of crumbs from the cake.  A lot of that was my (lack of) technique but it is just plain sticky!  I would definitely use this on a cupcake in the future but I would need to practice a good few more cakes like this before I was happy with it.


Serves 16 easily

For the cake:
250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs (weighing approximately 250g)
250g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk

For the American Frosting:

300g caster sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 large egg whites

Chocolate decorations (about 50g melted chocolate made all of these decorations)

– First, make the cake.  Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease 4 8″ sandwich tins.
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
– Gradually add the eggs, mixing well between additions.
– Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and mix to combine.
– Add the milk and mix until smooth.
– Divide the mixture equally between the cake tins.  Easiest way is to eyeball it first then weigh each one altering them until they are all within a gram or two of each other.
– Bake for 20 minutes on two shelves, switching shelves after 10 minutes.
–  Test with a skewer to check each layer is cooked through  then turn out onto wire racks and leave to cool.
– When you’re ready to assemble your cake start the icing.
– Place all of the ingredients in a large, heatproof bowl.
– Place the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and beat lightly until the sugar is dissolved and you can’t feel any grains.
– Use an electric hand mixer to whisk the mixture until it forms stiff peaks.
– Then remove from the heat and continue to whisk until cool.  (Or, until you get bored and wander off, whichever happens first, ahem.)
– To assemble the cake place the first layer on your serving plate and top with a dollop of frosting.  Carefully but quickly spread this out to close to the edges.  Try not to go over a spot more than once.  Just smooth and move on.
– Repeat with the remaning layers until you reach the top.  You should have about half the frosting left.
– Generously frost the top of the cake, being a little more artistic withthe swirls this time.  Again, try to only make one pass.
– Smooth the remaining icing round the sides with a palate knife to create a smooth side.  Make sure the frosting on the top and sides joins together and meets the plate at the bottom.
– Decorate as you wish.
Once iced this will keep uncut for a few days before serving.



Filed under Basic, Cakes, For the Keen Cook

Chocolate Marmalade Loaf Cake

I saw this cake recipe in one of the Sunday Supplements a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately I can’t remember which one or who’s recipe it is coz I took a snap of the recipe on my phone and cooked from that.

It looked rather delicious though so, when I fancied a bit of baking, I thought I’d give it a go.  It’s an interesting recipe, quite different to ones I’ve tried before.  It does get a bit messy, using various bowls, jugs and cups so there’s more washing up involved than I would like but I think the results are well worth it.


This cake has a really nice texture.  It’s moist as a result of the marmalade drizzle but never gets soggy.  It has an almost chewy bite to it, in fact, and it’s nice and dense without being heavy.  The chunks of orange peel and the chocolate chips add some nice interesting bits inside.  It was a big hit with everyone at the office and gets two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me!


Serves 12

200g plain flour
30g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
200ml golden syrup (honey or brown sugar)
2 tbsp yogurt (I used vanilla, recipe says plain)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder (or 1 shot espresso or strong coffee)
200g marmalade
(5 tbsp orange juice)
200ml boiling water
100g butter, melted
100g chocolate chips

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C and grease/line a 900g loaf tin.  (Which I have learned is not the very big one, or the little one, it’s the medium sized biggish one).
– In a large bowl mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
– In a large jug mix together the eggs, golden syrup, yogurt and vanilla extract.
– Put the cocoa and the coffee in a mug and add about 100ml boiling water.
– Put the marmalade in another mug and add about 5tbsp boiling water.  (You can also use orange juice, I didn’t have any so water it was!) If your marmalade has long strands of zest then use scissors to chop them up to more managable lengths.
– Add the egg mixture, the cocoa and half of the marmalade mixture to the dry ingredients.  Retain half the marmalade for glazing the cake later.
– Stir everythign together until it’s smooth with no lumps of flour.
– Add the chocolate chips and stir through.
– Pour into your prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 40-60 minutes.  (Original recipe says 30-50, mine took 60 minutes.)
– It’s cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
– Allow to cool inthe tin for 20 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
– Place on the plate you want to serve it on and stab all over with a skewer, making sure you don’t go all the way to the bottom of the cake.
– Gently spoon the remaining marmalade glaze evenly over the cake.  It may puddle a bit but you can scoop it up and reapply it if there’s tonnes.
– Leave to stand for at least 1 hour before serving so it can soak up more of that glaze.


Filed under Cakes, Easy, Moderately easy