Tag Archives: cake

Ginger slab cake

Last Friday I went for drinks at a friend’s house with my parents, it was a normal affair up until the point that our host brought out some 6 ½ week old puppies.  I am what people might describe as a “soft touch” and have a complete weakness for all animals.  So when I was asked whether I would like to have one of the puppies I melted and it was a no-brainer!  The Old Man is of the opinion that the drinks were arranged as a great trap and believes that we were effectively sandbagged into taking the puppy (please note as I write this the puppy is sound asleep curled up in the Old Man’s arms as he takes his daily afternoon nap).  I have decided to name her Hetti, which apparently means – home leader/lord of the manor.  This is probably quite a fitting name as it is very likely that she will dominate Shadow (Belgian Shepherd) and Biggles (Springer Spaniel) despite the fact that she a Teckel (aka Dachshund) and positively diminutive compared to the boys! 

The recipe for the ginger slab cake is very straightforward to make as it uses the ‘all in one’ principle.  Consequently this cake can be made in no time at all and is very light and moist.  The stem ginger enhances the ginger flavour so if you prefer a milder flavour then don’t add it to the cake batter.  This cake keeps nicely in an air-tight tin or wrapped up in foil.


Ginger Slab Cake


For the cake:

  • 6oz butter
  • 6oz sugar
  • 7oz plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 1tsp ground ginger (or 2tsp if you prefer a slightly spicier cake)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp stem ginger, finely chopped (optional)

For the icing:

  • 100-150g icing sugar
  • 3-5tbsp water (or syrup that the stem ginger is stored in)
  • 1tbsp crystallised ginger pieces (for decoration)


1.  Preheat oven to 170C fan.  Grease and line the bottom of a cake tin (15cm x 25cm).

2. Place all the ingredients for the cake in a bowl and beat to together for 2-3 minutes.

3.  Spoon the batter into the cake tin and carefully level out.  Place in the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

4.  Place the cake onto a rack and leave to cool.

5.  Whilst the cake is cooling prepare the icing by placing the water/syrup in a bowl and gradually in the icing sugar stirring all the time so that you get a smooth slightly runny icing (add more water/syrup if needed).

6.  Once the cake is cool pour over the icing and scatter over some crystallised ginger pieces.  Serve with a cup of tea/coffee.


Chestnut Cupcakes

A couple of days ago I tried out another idea I had for using fresh chestnuts since we had some sitting in a fruit bowl waiting to be used.  I had been wondering for the last couple of days how they would work in a cake.  So, after preparing my chestnuts, I gave it a go.  The resultant cake was delightfully crumbly and light.  It was much sweeter than I thought it would turn out but was just what I needed after an afternoon spent painting.

The one thing I would say if you do make these cupcakes is make sure there is no husk left on any of the chestnuts before you grind them up as it can make the cupcakes have a slightly gritty texture.  If you can’t find fresh chestnuts then using tinned or vacuum packed chestnuts would be fine.


Chestnut Cupcakes

Ingredients: (makes 12)

For the cake:

  • 4oz chestnuts (ground finely – see chestnut preparation)
  • 5oz caster sugar
  • 5oz butter
  • 6oz self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

For the frosting:

  • 2oz chestnuts (finely ground)
  • 2oz butter
  • ½tsp salt
  • 6-7oz icing sugar


1.  Preheat oven to 170C fan.

2.  Grease and flour a muffin tin or cupcake tin.

3.  Place all of the ingredients for the cake together in a bowl, beat together using an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes.

4.  Spoon the cake batter into the muffin tin.  Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (or until a skewer comes out of the cupcakes cleanly).


5.  Run a knife carefully around the sides of the cupcakes then tip them out onto a cooling rack.

6.  Whilst the cupcakes are cooling prepare the frosting.  Combine the butter, chestnuts and salt in a bowl.  Gradually add in the icing sugar stirring continuously until you have a fairly stiff frosting.

7.  Spoon a little of the frosting onto each of the cupcakes and smooth it over using the back of the spoon.  Serve with a cup of tea or coffee.  Enjoy!

A Fruit Tea Cake

I know what you are thinking, another fruit cake!?  Well I promise that this one is very different from the last fruit cake.  This cake is incredibly light, moist and isn’t overly sweet.  I personally enjoy a good fruit cake though I know they are not particularly popular but, for me, fruit cake is the perfect tea time treat on a cold autumnal afternoon.  I have found over the years that fruit cakes tend to taste better on the second and third day of eating – I am not sure exactly why this is but I guess it has something to do with the flavours maturing as the days pass.

Mumsy has been talking about wanting a fruit cake for some time.  I was fully aware that she was after Delia Smith’s recipe for tea cake. However, I was in the mood for experimenting so I decided to do my twist on a tea cake.  I started preparing the cake in the morning by soaking the dried fruit in a bowl of tea so that the fruit would be completely rehydrated and ready for adding to the cake batter.  The resultant cake was not what Delia would consider to be a traditional tea cake, but, Mumsy enjoyed it and that was the most important thing.


Fruit Tea Cake


  • 150g mixed dried fruit
  • 50g currants
  • 50g cherries (cut in half)
  • 1 cup of strong tea (boiling hot)
  • 200g soft margarine
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 100g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaped tsp black treacle


1.  Place the mixed fruit and currants in a bowl with the cup of tea, cover with cling film and allow to soak for 2-4 hours.

2. Once the fruit has had time to soak, cream together the sugar and margarine together in a bowl.

3.  Slowly add the eggs to the mix adding a little flour to prevent the mixture from curdling.

4.  Sift in the flour and beat well.

5.  Strain the fruit, then add to the mixture along with the remaining ingredients.

6.  Pour the batter into a lined square tin 25cm x 25cm.  Bake in a preheated oven at 170C fan for 35-45 minutes (or until a skewer comes cleanly out of the cake).  If you are concerned the cake is browning too quickly turn the oven down slightly or cover the cake with a piece of baking paper.


100 Followers and counting – thank you everyone for your support and encouragement!

Yesterday evening was a great moment as my 100th follower signed up and I would like to say a huge thank you for everyone’s support and encouragement.  I have been thinking about what recipe I would post if I did get 100 followers and it dawned on me that the perfect recipe to share is the one we use as a family when we celebrate.  It is our ‘go to’ birthday cake – Chocolate Smartie Cake.

Coincidentally, it is my youngest brother’s birthday.  He turns 25 today, so it felt quite apt when I baked the cake this morning.  There is one slight problem – the cake is in France and my brother is London.  So Little Man – Happy Birthday!  We shall be thinking of you when we eat it later this afternoon.

I don’t know anyone who has tried this cake and not enjoyed it.  Before I get a swathe of comments from my brothers – the traditional family cake normally has chocolate fudge icing in the middle and on the top, so, if you choose to do this just double the quantities for that icing.  I personally prefer it with a buttercream filling in the middle and find that a mocha icing cuts through the sweetness of the cake.


Chocolate Smartie Cake


For the Cake:

  • 200g soft margarine
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3-4 drops vanilla essence
  • 2tbsp milk

Mocha buttercream for the filling:

  • 35g soft margarine
  • 35g butter
  • 1tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tsp boiling water
  • 1-2tbsp milk
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100-125g icing sugar

Chocolate Fudge Icing:

  • 100g plain chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 175-200g icing sugar


1. Preheat your oven to 170C fan and line a 20cm deep cake tin.

2.  Cream together the butter and sugar.

3.  Slowly add in the eggs being careful that they don’t curdle (if in doubt add a little flour at this stage to stabilise your mixture).

4.  Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa then stir well before adding the vanilla essence and milk and then beat the mixture together for a couple of minutes.

6.  Pour the cake batter into the cake tin.

7.  Place in oven and bake for about 30/45 mins (or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean).  (Note: I tend to turn the oven down to 160C fan after about 30 minutes to stop the cake browning too much on top.)


8.  Remove from oven, place the cake on cooling rack and leave until completely cold.

9.  Whilst the cake is cooling make your mocha filling.  Place the butter, soft margarine and coffee in a bowl and beat together.  Sift in the cocoa and icing sugar using an electric whisk, beat the icing together, adding a little milk if needed to loosen the icing.


10.  Once the cake is cool, cut it in half as carefully as you can.  Spoon the mocha filling on the bottom half of the cake. Using a knife evenly spread out the icing, placing the other half of the cake on top once you are happy.

11. Then make the chocolate fudge icing, by melting the chocolate and butter in a bowl above a pan of simmering water.  Once everything has melted, add the beaten egg to the chocolate mixture and stir vigorously (The mixture should start to thicken).  Leave the mix to cool a little before sieving in the icing sugar and stirring the mix until all is combined.


12.  Spoon the icing onto the top of the cake a little at a time and using a knife smooth the icing evenly over and down the sides of the cake.

13. Finally decorate with the smarties.

In preparation for Christmas – making and feeding the Christmas cake

This year I have actually got my act together and made my Christmas cake well in advance of Christmas.  I am trying to be very diligent and feed the cake weekly with a local alcohol called Vin de Noix (Walnut Wine) so that the cake is beautifully moist when I eventually cut into it on Christmas Day.

We in fact make the Vin de Noix each year in mid-June using a combination of green walnuts, eau de vie, red wine, sugar, orange and spices.  The resulting drink is quite delicious and smells like Christmas pudding.  I used it last year to soak the fruit in for my Christmas cake and then used it to feed the cake in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The resultant taste was superb.  However, I appreciate that Vin de Noix is not something that everyone can readily lay their hands on, so I would advise you to use whatever you have to hand for example Sherry, Madeira, Brandy or Whisky.

I have in fact made two Christmas cakes this year, one for my grandmother and one for me.  The cakes are not the same as I used what I could find in the store cupboards of each house, so, as an example my grandmother’s cake was made using white sugar which meant her cake was a golden brown colour after cooking.  By contrast I used dark brown sugar in my cake and so I have a cake that is a deep brown colour as you would expect of a rich fruit cake.  The one thing I ensured about both cakes was they were packed full of dried fruit, essential for any Christmas cake.

So for now, both the cakes are wrapped up tightly in tin foil and have been stored away in some old air-tight sweet tins, keeping them fresh between their weekly feeds.  They will remain this way until they are iced in the week before Christmas.  (See icing the Christmas cake).


My Christmas Cake


  • 1 wine glass Vin de Noix (or ½ wine glass Brandy, Madeira, Sherry or Whisky)
  • 18oz dried mixed fruit
  • 6oz raisins
  • 6oz currants
  • 6oz sultanas
  • 1½oz mixed peel
  •  4oz glacé cherries
  • 4½oz plain flour
  • 4½oz self-raising flour
  •  1tsp salt
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 6oz butter (or hard margarine)
  • 6oz dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 heaped tbsp black treacle
  • zest 1 orange
  • 2oz hazelnuts
  • 2oz chopped walnuts


1. Place the dried fruit, raisins, sultanas, currants, glacé cherries, mixed peel and Vin de Noix in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave for as long as possible (12hrs minimum, the longer you leave it the better the cake will be).

2. When your fruit is ready make your cake batter.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl, then slowly add the eggs being careful that they don’t curdle (if in doubt add a little flour at this stage to stabilise your mixture).

4. Add the flour, spices, salt, zest and treacle to the mix and combine using a large metal spoon.

5. Finally add the nuts and the fruit to the batter and stir well making sure that the fruit is evenly distributed through the batter.

6.  Line a 20cm loose bottomed deep cake tin with baking paper.  Do this by:

  • Cutting out 4 circles the size of the tin, 2 of these will be for the bottom and the other two will be for the top of the cake.  Cut a 1” cross in the centre of the two circles to be used for the top of the cake.
  • Cut a long piece of baking paper big enough to go around the outside of the tin, fold it in half lengthways.   On one edge make a crease (roughly an 1”) then make cuts every inch up to the crease (this will allow the paper to fit far better into the tin).

  • Place the long piece of baking paper in the tin first, so that the cuts in the paper lie smoothly on the bottom of the tin.  Fill the cake tin with the batter, push it down gently, then place the two circles of the baking paper with the cross over the batter.
  • Finally, take a large piece of brown parcel paper, fold it in half lengthways and wrap it around the outside of the tin, tying it in place with a piece of string.

7.  Place the cake in the oven and cook at 150C fan for 3 -3 ½ hours (or until a skewer comes out clean).

8.  Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely, before feeding with 1tbsp of Vin de Noix, then wrap tightly in tin foil and place in an airtight container.

9.  Continue to feed the cake once a week with 1 tbsp of Vin de Noix up until it is iced.