I turned 30 last week. I don’t really know how that happened, but I’m going to play along and claim that I’m OK with it, and that I’m not remotely having a miniature crisis of self. I celebrated with good friends, eating pizza at my favourite place in Walthamstow (long term readers and anyone that follows me on my instagram will know that that’s SoDo Pizza Cafe), before flying off for a week in Iceland with my girlfriend, Maddie. Iceland was an absolutely incredible trip, including the best cinnamon bun of my life, numerous mountains, black sand beaches, infinite waterfalls and the most metal church I’ve ever seen. I’ll probably get around to that trip properly at a later date, but it was something from that adventure which prompted me to crack out my new bundt tin; Skyr. It’s everywhere in Iceland and you can use it in the same way as yogurt for most things, but it’s a bit thicker with a slightly different flavour.
I had a couple of punnets of blackberries that I impulse bought when out getting supplies for breakfast on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend. I started off with grand plans to make something like a blackberry meringue pie, but as the day drifted on, I decided to keep it simple. The sun was burning through the window and I wanted to make something equally fresh and summery, with simple flavours. I decided to combine the blackberries with a couple of things I had in the fridge; lemons & thyme sprigs. To keep the simple nature of this going, I pulled out a loaf tin and decided to make a drizzle cake. Read more
Admission: I had never made Olive Oil Cake before a week ago. I have since made it twice, and had to talk to myself seriously about making it a third time in less than a week. The thing is, it’s that easy to make. Yes it takes a good amount of time to bake and then cool, but it’s simple. A simple bake that you just want to sit and eat with a fork in one go is a rare find. There’s a great many simple recipes which I love, but I think this one has now taken its place as my favourite. I’d rather make this than yet another Victoria Sponge, for instance. It also works perfectly well without any frosting, so you haven’t even got to worry about decorating it. See, it’s simple.
What’s this? No updates for weeks and then two in the space of a few days? I’m flat out spoiling you all. Especially as these are my addition to last week’s National Cupcake Week celebrations. They were also a chance for me to test out the new slate cake stand that I got a couple of weeks ago. I obviously needed one for all those times I present my bakes in public (oh… wait). Having said that however I’m thinking about getting involved in next month’s Iron Cupcake Leeds event (the theme is death by chocolate and I’ve got a few ideas nestled in the back of my mind).
Anyway, enough of that waffle. I was trying to decide what to make last week and had a couple of thoughts when Kirsty piped up and asked for something lemony. It wasn’t long since I’d made my Mini Lime Drizzle Loaves so I decided to opt for something away from the standard drizzle. A simple lemon cupcake just felt a bit too plain so why not put some Lemon Curd in the middle? It adds that extra dimension to something already refreshing and full of flavour. Plus, for those not expecting it it’s a wonderful surprise to find a gooey filling.
This was also a chance for me to practise my frosting, which, if I’m being honest is not one of my stronger points (presentation-wise that is, it always tastes pretty damn good). The cakes use a simple recipe similar to that you’d use for a lemon drizzle loaf.
- For the cupcakes:
- 320g caster sugar
- 2 Large Free Range eggs
- 250ml semi skimmed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 200g butter, melted
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 350g plain flour
- zest of 2 lemons
- For the filling:
- 1 Jar Lemon Curd
- For the Frosting:
- 500g icing sugar
- 120g unsalted butter
- 30ml fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons milk (if you want thicker icing, use cream)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C(150°C fan)
- Cream the sugar, eggs and lemon zest together, beating well to get the sugar properly combined.
- Mix together the flour and baking powder. Slowly add the mixture to the wet ingredients with the mixer on a low speed. Slowly increasing the speed.
- Pour in the milk and Vanilla. While this is mixing over a low-mid speed melt the butter.
- Add the butter and mix until well combined. Scrape around the sides if you need.
- Line a cupcake tray and fill each case about ¾ full.
- Put a good dollop of lemon curd in the center of each filled case. Judge this by eye and on your own preference of filling.
- Bake for between 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, leaving in the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the cakes have cooled, start preparing the icing. Beat the butter until it’s soft.
- Add in the icing sugar and beat until it’s well combined.
- Add in the juice and zest beating well again. Lastly add in the milk (or cream). Beat until well combined and it forms stiff peaks.
- Pipe the frosting onto the cakes in any pattern you choose.
Here comes another not entirely baking related post, I’m sorry! Well, at least part of it is baking related. On the weekend I went to Hope Cove in Devon. It’s the 4th time I’ve made the trip with several friends and each time it has been incredible. It’s probably one of my favourite places on Earth (and I’ve seen quite a bit of this planet), at least in part due to the company. The seaside village is incredibly beautiful and the flat that we stay in is delightful.
This weekend was a bit more special as it was my friend Tom’s Birthday. And here is where the baking comes in. I recently got my hands on the Clandestine Cake book and decided to make one for his Birthday. Unfortunately, I finished the cake fairly late the night before I had to leave and then it got a bit… squashed… on the way there (I had to get a train and then a lift early in the morning. It took us hours longer than it should have because of traffic jams). This all combined to mean that I didn’t have a chance to photograph it properly, so you’ll just have to make do with what I got. The good news is that it tasted pretty awesome.
On the Saturday we BBQ’d and proceeded to play drinking games. We waited until he was feeling jolly before surprising him with the cake. I deliberately picked this cake as I knew that he enjoyed pistachios.
Just make sure you have 3 20cm round cake tins for this, and a tall enough tin!
- 300g butter, softened
- 300g caster sugar
- 5 eggs
- 300g self-raising flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- Grated zest of 3 limes, plus the juice of 2
- 50g pistachio nuts, finely chopped
- For the lime syrup:
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- For the lime curd:
- 60g butter, diced
- 2 eggs
- 170g caster sugar
- Grated zest and juice of 3 limes
- For the frosting & decoration:
- 250g butter, softened
- 200g full-fat cream cheese,from the fridge
- Grated zest of 1 lime
- 250g icing sugar
- 75g good-quality dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids)
- 125g pistachio nuts
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC (fan 170ºC). Grease and line the three sandwich tins.
- Beat the butter and sugar using a wooden spoon or electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and adding a tablespoon of the flour with the final egg to help prevent curdling.
- Fold in the remaining flour and the baking powder until thoroughly combined. Add the lime zest and juice and the finely chopped pistachio nuts and mix until well combined.
- Divide the mixture between the tins, spreading it evenly. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tins to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the lime juice and sugar into a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, then bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- While the sponges are still warm turn them out of their tins on to a wire rack, then carefully spoon the lime syrup over the top of each one– you may not need all the syrup. Leave the cakes to cool completely.
- Put all the ingredients for the lime curd in a small, heavy-based pan and heat gently, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon – don’t let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. When it has thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon quite thickly, strain through a sieve into a bowl. Cover and leave to cool
- To make the frosting, beat the butter until smooth. Add the cream cheese and mix until combined. Add the lime zest, then sift in the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the base of the bowl, then pour it on to a piece of baking parchment and spread it out with a palette knife so it is about 3mm thick. Scatter over some of the chopped pistachios and leave to cool and set.
- To assemble the cake, place one of the cooled cakes on a plate, spread with a third of the frosting, then cover with a generous layer of the lime curd. Add a sprinkling of the remaining chopped pistachio nuts. Place a second cake on top of this and repeat the layers (saving some pistachios for the top). Place the final cake on top and cover with the remaining frosting.
- Break the pistachio-studded chocolate into rough shards and arrange round the edge of the top of the cake, then scatter the remaining pistachios among them.
I’ll be bringing part 2 to you later in the week, with Maple and Mustard Pulled Pork as the feature.