Plum and Polenta Upside Down Cake

I was pleased to find some Victoria plums in my local market. They're my favourite sort after Mirabelles. The polenta makes a change from flour, and gives the cake a bit of crunch.
  • 8 plums
  • 75g light muscovado sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • For the cake:
  • 120g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 75g fine polenta
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon
         Preheat oven 190C/gas5               Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin, not a loose bottomed one as the juice might run out of the plums. if you only have this kind of tin, wrap a double laye of foil round the outside of the bottom of the tin.

        Halve the plums then cut into 1/4s. Put the sugar and lemon in a bowl and stir the plums through to coat. Put them in n overlapping layer in the bottom of the cake tin. If there's any syrup left in the bowl, spoon it over the plums.

        Cream the butter and sugar together till nice and fluffy. Add the eggs a bit at a time then fold in the almonds, polenta, baking powder and lemon juice.

        Spoon over the plums and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 mins till golden. Run a knife inside the cake tin then cool for 10 mins before turning out upside down onto a plate.

      Nice contrast between the slightly crunchy cake and the soft juicy fruit topping.  I like the almonds coming through in the background. It just needs a spoonful of cream for a perfect pudd!


Chocolate Mousse Cake

I went to a friend for tea recently and she made this cake. It's more of a dessert than a cake, but had to ask for the recipe as it was delicious. It's a nice change from a normal chocolate cake and it's easy to make, always a plus for me. I used Green and Black's chocolate, as I think you need a good quality for this recipe.

200g  dark chocolate
 200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
 250g granulated sugar
 5 large eggs
 1 tbspn plain flour
Preheat the oven 190C/gas5, and grease and base line a 20cm cake tin
Chop the chocolate and melt it with the butter in the microwave or over simmering water and stir to mix.
Add the sugar and stir in then leave to cool for a couple of mins. The mixture will look rather gritty, but don't worry this is fine.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each one - this time the mixture looks rather slimy so add the flour. Beat until you have a nice smooth, dark batter.
Pour into your tin and bake for about 25mins till the middle of the cake looks set and the top is shiny and a bit crackled. The centre will be a bit wobbly.
Leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, turning it upside down so the crackled bit is on the top.
It's nice with some cream, crème fraîche or even ice cream.

It's a lovely smooth texture, with a good chocolate flavour. Very rich!


Lime and Yoghurt Cake

           I like recipes that are quick and easy to make, and this is one of those. I always think 
 of it as'healthy' because it's made with oil and yoghurt! I suppose the amount of            sugar makes it unhealthy nowadays! There always seems to be a lime or lemon or 2 in my fridge and this is a good way to use them up. 
    You need: 250g Greek yoghurt, 80ml sunflower or rapeseed oil, 200g caster sugar ,4 tbspn lime juice and the zest of the lime, 250g plain flour with 11/2 tspn baking powder and a pinch of salt. For the topping – 1 tbspn lime zest and 2 tbspns sugar [so 2 limes altogether]

         Preheat oven 180C/gas4 Grease a 22cm cake tin and line the base.

Mix the yoghurt, oil , sugar, lime juice and zest together in a bowl. In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt together then add to the oil mixture and mix well till combined. Don't overmix or your cake will be tough.

Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 45-50 mins till cake is light brown.

Turn out onto a wire rack, and when the cake is cool, sprinkle the mixed sugar and lime zest.

The yoghurt and oil give the cake a nice moist crumb, and the lime gives it a bit of zing. A nice easy cake, just right with a cuppa. It would work equally well with a lemon.


Spicy Chocolate Cookies

I made these to take to a local coffee morning. Chocolate and spice go so well together. These freeze well, so you're never short of something sweet when the mood takes you!

You need - 200g dark chocolate, 210g plain flour, 11/2 tspn ginger, 1/2 tspn mixed spice, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1 tbspn cocoa powder, 110g butter, 120g dark brown sugar, 4 tbspn golden syrup, 1 tspn bicarb, whole almonds to decorate

Preheat oven 160C/gas3
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

Chop the chocolate up, and in a bowl sift the spices and cocoa together with the flour.

In another bowl beat the butter and sugar till fluffy, then add the golden syrup and beat again.

Dissolve the bicarb in 11/2 tspn boiling water.

Beat half o f the flour mixture into the butter one, beat in the bicarb then the rest of the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chunks and mix well.

Roll into a sausage shape and cover in clingfilm. Chill for about 2 hours till firm.

Cut slices off the roll and place on the baking sheets leaving about 2 cm spaces between each cookie. Push an almond in the centre of each cookie then put in fridge for 20 mins.

Bake for about 10-12 mins, then cool on a wire rack.

Lovely spicy flavour, good crunch. Think I'd like a bit more chocolate flavour, so will use more cocoa next time, 11/2 tbspn.


Cinnamon and Crème Fraîche Apple Cake

As Autumn is nearly upon us, I thought I'd make an apple cake. I seem to have collected a file full of cakes using apples in various ways, but I haven't made this cake before. It's from a leaflet that came with a French magazine a few years ago. I love cinnamon, and cinnamon and apple are made for each other.

You need:
4-5 apples , 180g butter, 1 heaped tspn cinnamon, 150g golden caster sugar, 50g flaked almonds, 3 eggs, 160g sr flour and 90g crème fraîche

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 Grease a 20cm cake tin

Peel the apples and cut up into dice. Melt 120g of the butter in a pan and add the diced apple. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and leave on a low heat for a few minutes.

Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the bottom of the cake tin. Spoon the apples on top.

Beat together the eggs and the sugar then fold in the flour and add the cream. Spoon this onto the apples.

Bake for about 25 mins. Leave in tin to cool then turn out upside down.

Serve with more crème fraîche or ice cream or just on its own.

A nice soft crumb, good apple taste, good hit of cinnamon and a crunch from the almonds. 


A Good Family Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake 'fashions' have come and gone over the last 30 odd years. There was the Black Forest gateau, the Sachertorte, truffle torte, lots of poor imitations of the River Cafe's gorgeous Nemesis cake to name but a few. I've tried most of these, but the recipe I come back to when the family want a chocolate cake is this one. I've been making it for a long time, but think it was originally a Delia recipe.
I like using oil in cakes, and this one is really moist and keeps well. It's a good sized cake too, and it can be dressed up for an occasion with ganache or whatever you fancy. Today's version is unadorned except for a filling of Nutella and a smattering of icing sugar on the top.

275g plain flour
3 tbspn cocoa powder
11/2 tspn baking powder
11/2 tspn bicarb. of soda
215g caster sugar
3 tbspn golden syrup
3 eggs [large]
225ml sunflower oil [I use rapeseed]
225ml milk
icing sugar

2x 20cm sandwich tins [about 4cm deep], greased and lined

Preheat oven 160C/gas3

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl and mix in the sugar. Make a well in the middle and add the rest of the ingredients.
Beat together well with a wooden spoon till nice and smooth.
Pour into the tins and bake for about 35 mins [ mine took 45 mins]. till well risen.
Remove from tins and take off lining paper. Cool on a wire rack.

You can then do what you like with them. As I've already said, I spread Nutella over one of them, put the other on top and sifted over some icing sugar. They'd risen quite a lot, so I cut the dome off one of the cakes to make it level so I could put the Nutella on it. Cook's perk to eat the slice cut off!

It's a nice moist cake, not too sweet, with a good chocolate flavour and a soft texture.


Lumberjack Cake

"The Lumberjack Cake is so-called by Canadian lumberjacks because it helps keep the hunger pangs at bay till lunch."
This is one of the reasons I found on the internet for the name of this cake. It's also claimed as an Australian and New Zealand recipe - so who knows?

I wanted something to fill some hungry men who'd helped me by putting up my new side gate. They all love sweet cakes and pudds, so this recipe seemed just the thing. It's more of a dessert than a cake to have with with a cuppa - too sticky.

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, and finely chopped - about 400g
200g chopped dates
1 tspn bicarb
250ml boiling water
125g butter
1 tspn vanilla extract
210g caster sugar
1 large egg
180g plain flour

60g Butter
8 tbspn milk
110g soft brown sugar
60g dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C /gas 4. Grease and line a 23cm spring form cake tin.

Mix together the apple, dates, bicarb and boiling water. Cover with cling film and leave till just warm.

Beat butter, vanilla and sugar till white and creamy; beat in the egg and fold in the flour . Add the apple mixture and mix together.
Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 mins.

For the topping;

Put the butter, milk, brown sugar and coconut in a pan and stir over a low heat till butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.

Take the cake out of the oven, pour over the coconut topping and bake for another 30 mins. Let the cake cool in the tin.

It's a sticky, moist cake - somebody describes it as 'squidgy' and that's a perfect description. You have this moist, sticky layer at the bottom and the lovely chewy caramelised, coconut layer on top. I have to admit that it's very sweet. My male helpers loved it, and it soon disappeared!