Posts Tagged With: cookbook

Cookbook Challenge 3 – Trine Hahnemann’s Scandinavian Marzipan Tarts

I was given Trine Hahnemann’s beautiful book, Scandinavian Baking, for Christmas last year and have been meaning to have a go at some of the recipes from it for a while. I have a soft spot for all things Scandi (Norway and Iceland are top of my bucket list of places to visit!) and love the sound of a lot of their traditional bakes, both sweet and savoury. I have to admit that I have made an alteration to this recipe and substituted the original lingonberries after ending up with a fabulous haul of blackberries following a productive foraging session in the fields near my house. Scrumping is one of my favourite things to do when autumn arrives so I thought it fitting to use the fruits of my labour and add a British twist 🙂 The berries’ tartness and the sweet, nutty marzipan are a match made in heaven.

I tend to stick with cakes or biscuits when baking so these lovely simple tarts were a perfect way to try something a bit different. I’d never made my own pastry before but it was so easy I’ll definitely be doing it again! This bake would also work wonderfully as one large tart for sharing, or with other kinds of sharp fruit. Trine’s recipe said to use individual fluted tins but a standard muffin tray works fine.


I topped my tarts with a few flaked almonds as a final flourish.

INGREDIENTS – makes 16 tarts

For the pastry:

  • 170g plain flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 115g butter, chilled
  • Half an egg, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 300g marzipan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 150g lingonberries (or blackberries)


  1. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  2. Add the egg and stir until the pastry comes together in a ball.
  3. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and grease 16 mini fluted cake tins or 2 muffin trays with butter.
  5. Roll the chilled dough out on a floured surface until 5-8mm thick then cut out rounds with a 9cm cookie cutter.
  6. Place the rounds in the prepared tins or muffin tray and grate the marzipan.
  7. Mix the grated marzipan, eggs and butter into a smooth paste and use to fill the pastry cases, then add the berries (about 3-4 per tart if you’re using blackberries).
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bottoms of the pastry cases are slightly brown then remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Categories: Other Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cookbook Challenge 2 – Nigella’s Devil’s Food Cake

I had another birthday cake request a few weeks ago, this time from my lovely Californian friend Lara. Her only brief was ‘CHOCOLATE’ so, in keeping with my resolution to try more actual cookbook recipes, I decided to have a go at Nigella Lawson’s sinful Devil’s Food cake that I remembered her baking on one of her TV shows.

Anyone that knows me knows that Nigella is one of my all-time favourite people in the world and, seeing as she’s the queen of decadent eating, I thought it was appropriate to use one of her recipes for a chocolatey, indulgent birthday treat.

I used white chocolate fingers to cover a strawberries and cream cake for my friend Danielle’s birthday last year and it turned out fantastically so I decided to go for a similar look for this one, but using dark chocolate Kit Kats instead. It looks quite fancy but it’s surprisingly easy to make and assemble – just make sure you allow extra time for the frosting to set to a spreading consistency.

I was worried the sponges wouldn’t rise properly when I was making them as the batter was so runny but they turned out beautifully. It’s gorgeously moist, dark and luscious, and a level up from a standard chocolate cake. You don’t need a big slice as it’s very rich due to the lashings of divine ganache frosting but it’s perfect for a special occasion. The birthday girl was over the moon and it was well worth the suspenseful tube journey transporting it from West Hampstead to Tower Hill!


INGREDIENTS – makes 2 sponge layers of 20cm/8in in diameter

For the cake:

  • 225g/8 oz plain flour
  • 150g/5 oz caster sugar
  • 100g/3.5 oz brown sugar
  • 125g/4.5 oz butter
  • 50g/2 oz cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250ml/8.5 fl oz boiling water
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the frosting:

  • 30g/1 oz brown sugar
  • 175g/6 oz butter
  • 300g/10.5 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 125ml/4 fl oz water

For the decorations:

  • 19 (approx.) dark chocolate Kit Kats (I used the Sainsbury’s own brand ones as I think the criss-cross pattern on them is prettier than the Kit Kat logo!)
  • 400g/14 oz (approx.) strawberries (about one standard punnet)
  • 110g/4 oz (approx.) raspberries (about half a standard punnet)
  • Pinch of edible glitter (optional)
    + a ribbon long enough to tie around the cake


For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two baking tins with parchment paper.
  2. Put the cocoa and brown sugar in a bowl and add the boiling water. Mix briefly and set aside.
  3. Whisk the butter and caster sugar together until pale.
  4. Place the flour, baking powder and bicarb into a separate bowl.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and one egg to the butter mixture and whisk, then add half of the flour mixture.
  6. Add the other egg to the butter mixture, followed by the rest of the flour mixture and continue whisking.
  7. Fold in the liquid cocoa mixture and mix until all the ingredients are combined.
  8. Pour the batter in equal quantities into the prepared cake tins, then place in the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponges comes out clean.
  9. When baked, leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack before turning out of the tins.

For the frosting:

  1. Place the water, butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and melt together on a low heat.
  2. When the mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate. Swirl the liquid over the pieces so that they melt evenly.
  3. When the chocolate has all melted, whisk the mixture until smooth and glossy, then transfer into a cool mixing bowl.
  4. Leave the frosting to set for at least one hour (place it in the fridge to speed up the process a bit) until it’s a spreadable consistency.
  5. When set, spread some of the frosting onto one of the cooled sponges then sandwich the other sponge on top. Spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake.


For the decorations:

  1. Take the Kit Kats out of their wrappers and carefully place all around the edge of the cake, without any gaps, pushing them firmly into the frosting so that they stick.
  2. Tie the ribbon around the middle of the cake to secure the biscuits.
  3. Top with the strawberries and raspberries and add a sprinkling of edible glitter if you fancy. Et voila!

Cake & frosting recipe © Nigella Lawson

Categories: Chocolate, Layer Cakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cookbook Challenge 1 – Mary Berry’s Coffee Cake

Pretty much all of my baking is based on ideas I’ve made up myself or adapted from existing recipes found online. It’s nice to be creative and come up with my own original bakes but I own so many lovely cookbooks that it’s a shame how little I actually use them! I also sometimes frustrate myself by not bothering to follow a recipe and then ending up with a sloppy, slapdash result. For these reasons I’ve set myself the challenge of making at least three creations from cookbooks, instructions followed to the letter, in the coming months.

I started off with this wonderfully easy but delicious all-in-one coffee cake from Mary Berry’s Simple Cakes book (it’s actually a recipe for Hokey Pokey cake with a walnut praline topping but I left this part out). It’s one of my other half’s favourite things to bake (and eat!) and he requested it for his birthday this month. He said no frills but as it was a special occasion I wanted to put some time and effort into the decoration, so I added some dark chocolate chips and made a cute cappuccino-style heart in the middle with cocoa powder (okay, I know this is technically straying from the recipe but this was extra to the actual cake!) I’m happy to say Jack was thrilled with it and, even though I HATE coffee as a drink, I loved it too 🙂

20150719_180902INGREDIENTS – makes 2 thick or 3 shallow sponge layers of 18cm/7in in diameter

For the cake:

  • 225g/8 oz self-raising flour
  • 225g/8 oz caster sugar
  • 225g/8 oz butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the icing/decorations:

  • 250g/9 oz icing sugar
  • 75g/2.5 oz butter
  • 1.5 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 50g/2 oz (approx.) dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp (approx.) cocoa powder
    + a heart (or other shape of choice) cut from card, approx. 6cm/2.5in wide


For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C (or 140 fan) and line two or three baking tins with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture in equal quantities into the prepared cake tins then pop in the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes (you may need less time if making three shallow layers) until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponges comes out clean.
  4. When baked, leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack before turning them out of the tins. At this stage the sponges can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.

For the icing/decorations:

  1. Place the butter and coffee in a bowl and sift in the icing sugar (I’m normally too lazy to do this but it does make for a lovely smooth buttercream!) then whisk until a smooth, spreadable mixture has formed.
  2. Spread half of the buttercream on one of the sponges and sandwich the other on top (do the same for the third layer if you’re using three tins), then spread the rest of buttercream on the top layer.
  3. Place the card heart in the centre of the cake and push down quite firmly so it doesn’t move then sieve the cocoa powder over the entire top surface (don’t worry if the edges are patchy as this will be covered up by the chocolate chips).
  4. Carefully remove the card template then arrange the chocolate chips neatly in pairs in a circle around the edge of the cake.

20150719_181553Cake & buttercream recipe © Mary Berry

Categories: Layer Cakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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