Spiced Fruit Babka

This treat is ideal for the festive season. Over the past few months I’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts from my foodie friends about babkas. A babka is a type of sweet brioche-style bread rolled up with a sweet filling. It originates from Jewish communities in Poland and the Ukraine. They particularly caught my eye due to the delicate marble effect of the bread and the filling when sliced. So I had a go at making my own using Nutella and then cinnamon sugar as the filling – they were delicious, and my family devoured them really quickly. I then thought about adding a Caribbean twist to the babka and came up with this recipe for Spiced Fruit Babka. It takes as the filling the key ingredients from the traditional Jamaican Black Cake: dried fruit soaked in rum, mixed spice and almond extract.

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Now, this recipe takes a little forward planning as the dried fruit has to be soaked in alcohol for at least two days in advance in order to get the correct flavour, but it is completely worth it. The result is a soft and airy, slightly sweet bread, enveloped around jam-like layers of moist spiced boozy fruit. Irresistible when freshly baked, and perfect for an afternoon tea on these cold days.


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Spiced Fruit Babka Recipe

Makes: 2 loaves
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Macerating Time: 2 days
Baking Time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

for the bread:

  • 235 ml milk warmed (plus an additional 2 tbsp for egg wash)
  • 7 g fast action yeast
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 115 g unsalted butter cubed at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 530 g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp salted butter for spreading on the dough

for the filling:

  • 250 g dried fruits roughly chopped
  • 120 ml dark rum
  • 120 ml sweet sherry or port
  • 0.5 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 0.5 tsp almond extract
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Start by macerating the fruit. In a non-reactive bowl add the chopped fruit, rum and sherry and mix well. Cover with cling film and leave to macerate for 2 days.
  2. Prepare the bread. Add the milk to a mixing bowl and mix in the yeast, sugar, butter one egg and one egg yolk. The mixture will look lumpy but don’t worry about this.
  3. Mix in the flour in one quarter at a time until a dough is formed. Knead until the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Ideally use a mixer with a dough hook, I would recommend the Kitchen Aid Hand Mixer, click here for more details.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl, oil the bowl, place the dough back in the bowl and turn it over so that all sides of the dough are oiled. Cover the bowl with cling film and place a tea towel on top. Leave the dough to rise for around 2 hours.
  5. In the meantime, add the mixed spice, almond extract and vanilla extract to the macerated fruits and stir well. Blend the fruit for around 2-3 minutes until a smooth paste is formed. I used my Nutribullet for this – click here for more details.
  6. Grease two 2lb (23 cm x 13 cm) loaf tins using cooking oil. Divide the risen dough into two and reserve one half covered in a bowl for later. I would recommend the MasterClass 2lb Loaf Tin, you can click here for more details on this tin.
  7. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is around 22 cm x 33 cm (just a little bigger than a sheet of A4 paper).
  8. Use a knife or your fingers to spread the salted butter on the top surface of the rolled out dough – take care not to pierce or tear the surface. Spread half of the spiced fruit mixture on top.
  9. Roll the dough along the long edge to form a log. It will be a bit messy, but don’t worry. Ensure that the seam is at the bottom of the log and cut the log in half along it’s length.
  10. Twist the two halves of the log together then place this in the oiled loaf tin.
  11. Repeat steps 8 to 10 with the other half of the dough.
  12. Allow both loaves to rest for around 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional oven)
  13. Make the egg wash by mixing the remaining egg white with 2 tablespoons of milk. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash.
  14. Bake the loaves in the oven for 50-55 minutes until nicely browned.
  15. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before removing them from the tins.

Epic Eggless Chocolate Brownies

These eggless chocolate brownies came about by accident. I fancied a warm chocolate brownie with ice cream one day. So I got to work making brownies only to find that my hubby had gotten home from the gym and had gone on a protein fest – he had finished all the eggs *facepalm*. So, not one to concede, I rejigged my recipe – reduced the flour and incorporated natural yoghurt, and the result was uh-mazing! I got a rich chocolate brownie with a gooey, fudgy middle. It had a slight crunch from the shiny top crust. I added expresso to bring out the richness of the cocoa flavour, and I counterbalanced this by adding in white chocolate chunks for sweetness – mini marshmallows also work well here. I actually like these better than my regular brownie recipe, and it was phenomenal with vanilla ice cream!

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Epic Eggless Chocolate Brownie Recipe

Makes: 9 brownies
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 25-30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 60 g unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 160 g brown sugar
  • 170 g caster sugar
  • 120 ml yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp espresso
  • 90 g plain flour
  • 75 g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g white chocolate chunks or marshmallows

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional oven).
  2. Grease a 9 inch (23 cm) square cake tin and line with baking paper. I used my Circulon Momentum square cake tin for this recipe, you can find more details on this tin here. This tin is very versatile and has served me well for around three years now.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the butter, oil and sugars until glossy.
  4. Gently whisk in the yoghurt, vanilla essence and espresso until they are just incorporated (don’t over mix).
  5. Mix together the flour cocoa powder and baking powder. Sift one third of this mixture into the liquid ingredients and fold in with a spatula after each addition being careful not to mix it too much – you don’t want air in the mixture if you are trying to obtain a fudgy end result.
  6. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate chunks or marshmallows.
  7. Pour the mixture into the cake tin, spread evenly with a spatula and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chunks or marshmallow onto the top.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the mixture is set.
  9. Remove from the oven allow the brownie to cool for at least 15 minutes before using a sharp knife to slice into 9 squares.

Peaches and Cream Cake

This is the cake that I made for my birthday this year and it was a winner with my family. It has a light and fluffy sponge with a hint of cinnamon. It is filled with whipped cream and chopped peaches. And it is topped with a little more cream and sliced peaches.

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I’ve always loved cream cakes and savoury dishes with creamy sauces, but over the years I’ve found that I’ve become less tolerant to dairy products. So I tried to avoid these creamy foods as much as I could (though I would suffer for ice cream and cheesecake on occasion). However, I recently discovered Elmlea Plant Double Cream, and it’s been a game changer – I can now enjoy the dishes I’d once been avoiding without risk of feeling uncomfortable afterwards. Elmlea Plant Double cream works well in cream teas and coffees, in creamy pasta alfredo sauce and it’s a dream in this peaches and cream cake. It’s definitely worth a try whether you’re dairy intolerant or not.


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Peaches and Cream Cake Recipe

Serves: 6 – 8

Preparation Time: 12 – 15 minutes

Baking Time: 25 – 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 160 g butter melted and cooled
  • 160 g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.25 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 100 ml double cream or Elmlea Plant Double Cream
  • 200 g peach slices drained (around half a tin)

METHOD

  1. Pre heat oven to 170 °C fan (190 °C conventional oven).
  2. Grease and line two 18 cm round loose bottomed cake tin with baking paper. Brush the baking paper lightly with some additional melted butter. I used my favourite MasterClass Non-Stick Loose Base Cake Tin for this. These high quality tins are deep with a thick heavy base. The non-stick coating means they wash really well and still look like new after over a dozen baking projects. Click here for more details on the tin.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together and set aside.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar together with a hand mixer for around 7-10 minutes, until the mixture has doubled in size and it is stiff.
  5. Fold in the butter with a spatula.
  6. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon mixture a quarter at a time and lightly fold into the batter after each addition.
  7. Divide the batter between the two baking tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cakes start to come away from the sides and a skewer poked into the centre of each cake comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the tins for around 10 minutes before removing from the tin and removing the baking paper. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. In the meantime prepare the filling and topping. Reserve around 6 of the peach slices for the top of the cake. Chop the remaining slices into small chunks for the filling.
  10. Whip the cream using an electric whisk. Reserve a quarter of the cream for the top of the cake.
  11. When the cakes have cooled completely, spread or pipe the cream onto the top of one of the cakes. Sprinkle with the peach chunks. Add the remaining cream to the top of the cake and arrange the whole slices neatly on top.

Bibingka (Filipino Coconut Rice Cake)

Filipino desserts and sweet treats are very different to their European and American counter parts. They are often denser in texture, and as expected many feature exotic ingredients such as purple yam (ube), coconut, casava and glutinous rice. This Filipino coconut rice cake is a wonderful alternative to cupcakes. It is traditionally cooked in banana leaves which adds more flavour, but is still delicious even just baked in cupcake cases. It’s super quick and easy to make and the ingredients are really easy to find (see the “Notes” section below).

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Bibingka Recipe

Makes: 12 cupcakes

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Baking Time: 15-20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 115 g rice flour (I’d recommend Natco Rice Flour)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 g caster sugar
  • 200 ml coconut milk (half a can)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter melted
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 °C fan (190 °C conventional oven).
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  3. Mix the rice flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
  4. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and thoroughly whisk in the caster sugar, coconut milk, butter and vanilla extract.
  5. Sift the dry ingredients onto the wet ingredients a third at a time. Fold the mixture together between each addition.
  6. The batter formed will be runnier than that of traditional European/American cake batter, but don’t worry, the rice flour will firm up during baking. Divide the batter between the cupcake cases.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the muffin tray for around 10 minutes before transferring the cakes onto a wire rack for further cooling.

NOTES

  • I bought my rice flour from Amazon. Click here for more details.

Rum Cake

I’m obsessed with Tortuga Rum cakes. This Caribbean style sponge cake is made by the Tortuga Rum Company is commonly sold in cute hexagonal shaped boxes in many of the Caribbean Islands for tourists to buy as souvenirs. It’s ideal for slicing up and sharing with friends or office mates while you reminisce about your holiday 😁.

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The white sponge is light and is soaked in rum syrup so it is super moist. It’s delicious with a scoop of ice cream. I recently found myself craving this cake so I decided to have a go at making my own version, here’s my recipe.


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Rum Cake Recipe

Serves: 6-8

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 160 g unsalted butter melted (cooled)
  • 60 ml dark rum
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 160 g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 30 ml rum (additional for pouring)

For the syrup:

  • 100 g sugar
  • 60 ml water
  • 60 ml dark rum
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla essence

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 °C fan (190 °C conventional oven).
  2. Grease and line 18 cm round loose bottomed cake tin with baking paper. Brush the baking paper lightly with some additional melted butter. I love my MasterClass Non-Stick Loose Base Cake Tin. I got two of these earlier on in the year and they have served me really well so far. These high quality tins are deep with a thick heavy base. The non-stick coating means they wash really well and still look like new after over a dozen baking projects. Click here for more details on the tin.
  3. Mix the cooled melted butter and the rum together and set aside.
  4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  5. Whisk the eggs and sugar together with a hand mixer for around 7-10 minutes, until the mixture has doubled in size and it is stiff.
  6. Fold in the rum-butter mixture with a spatula.
  7. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt a quarter at a time and lightly fold into the batter after each addition.
  8. Pour into the baking tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake starts to come away from the sides and a skewer poked into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  9. In the meantime make the rum syrup by adding all the syrup ingredients to a small saucepan. Simmer and stir until it has thickened.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before removing it from the tin and peeling off the baking paper.
  11. Place on a baking rack and little by little pour the rum all over the top of the cake giving it time to sink in before each additional pour.
  12. Leave for 20-30 minutes then pour over half the rum syrup. After another 20-30 minutes of soaking time pour over the remaining syrup.

NOTES

  • Once the cake has cooled dust with sifted icing sugar and decorate with grated orange zest and orange slices. Orange works really well with the rum flavour.
  • This is delicious on it’s own, but I love to eat this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • I really hope you will give my recipe a try, but if you’re after the real Tortuga Rum Cake you can click here to order one.

Pistchoccio Fudge (Chocolate & Pistachio Fudge)

Pistchoccio fudge is one of my family’s favourite sweet treats. It is homemade chocolate fudge flecked with pieces of toasted crushed pistachio. The chocolate fudge is rich and smooth and the toasted pistachios add a slight crunch. It’s so more-ish and it’s really easy to make.


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Pistchoccio Fudge Recipe

Makes: one tray of fudge (around 100 pieces of fudge)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 395 g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 300 g dark cooking chocolate
  • 0.5 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 60 g pistachios

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C fan (200 °F conventional).
  2. Line a 22 cm by 22 cm square baking tin with baking paper.
  3. Place pistachios in a sandwich/food bag and bash with a rolling pin until the nuts are broken into small pieces. Spread on an oven tray and place into the oven for around 5 minutes until the nuts start to go brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. Pour the condensed milk and chocolate into a saucepan. Place on a low heat and mix until the chocolate has melted and the mixture has thickened. It should be smooth and glossy.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the salt, vanilla essence and toasted nuts.
  6. Stir vigorously for 3-5 minutes as the mixture cools.
  7. Pour into the baking tin and spread with the back of a wooden spoon.
  8. Place in the fridge to set for an hour before cutting into squares (roughly 2 cm by 2 cm).

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

These cupcakes are inspired by one of my favourite desserts, lemon meringue pie. They have a light and fluffy sponge with a creamy, but zingy lemon curd centre and a crispy meringue top.


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Lemon Meringue Cupcake Recipe

Makes: 16 cupcakes
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Baking Time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the cupcakes:

  • 215 g plain flour
  • 190 g caster sugar
  • 0.25 tsp baking soda
  • 1.25 tsp baking powder
  • 0.25 tsp salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 170 g unsalted butter melted
  • 3 egg whites from large eggs
  • 120 ml sour cream
  • 120 ml whole milk
  • 8 tsp lemon curd

For the meringue:

  • 3 large free range egg whites
  • 155 g caster sugar
  • 0.25 tsp vanilla essence
  • 0.75 g tbsp cornflour

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C fan (or 200 °C conventional oven) and line two muffin trays with 16 cup cake cases.
  2. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and lemon zest) and mix well.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the wet ingredients apart from the lemon curd (butter, egg whites, sour cream and milk).
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients – add the liquid into the dry ingredients little by little whisking well after each addition until a smooth batter is formed.
  5. Half fill the cup cake cases with batter, add half a teaspoon of lemon curd to each case and then fill the case with additional batter such that the cases are three quarters full.
  6. Bake the cupcakes for 18 minutes until a cocktail stick pierced into the cupcake comes out clean and when the cakes spring back up once you press down lightly on them.
  7. In the meantime make the meringue. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff. Use the fastest setting.
  8. Add the sugar to the egg white one spoon at a time whisking well after each spoonful.
  9. Add in the vanilla essence and cornflour and whisk until the egg white is glossy and it stays in the bowl when you tip it upside down.
  10. Once the cupcakes have baked, allow them to cool for around 10-15 minutes.
  11. Add a generous spoonful of meringue to the top of each cupcake. Use the spoon to create a peak at the top of the meringue.
  12. Add the cupcakes back to the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 180 °C until the meringue starts to go slightly brown. Then reduce the temperature of the oven to 100 °C and bake for a further 15 minutes.

NOTES

  • Ensure that all ingredients, especially the eggs, butter and sour cream at room temperature to prevent the cake batter from curdling.

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

Do you need a go-to cake that is fluffy with a lovely vanilla flavour? Then this is the recipe for you. Coupled with a rich chocolate butter cream icing which is enhanced by a hint of coffee, this cake is a real crowd-pleaser. It is perfect for birthdays or any other celebration, but it is also great as a no-nonsense sheet cake.


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Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Butter Cream Icing Recipe

Makes a 32 cm by 20 cm sheet cake. See notes below if making a sandwich cake.
Serves: 12
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 280 g plain flour
  • 32 g cornflour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.25 tsp salt
  • 355 ml whole milk
  • 5.5 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs and one large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 170 g unsalted butter
  • 350 g caster sugar

For the icing:

  • 170 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 170 g icing sugar
  • 40 ml black coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan or 200°C conventional. Grease and line a 32 cm by 20 cm baking tin with grease proof paper.
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  3. In a jug mix together the milk and lemon juice, beat in the eggs, then stir in the vanilla essence and set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and caster sugar. Use a food mixer on a high speed setting for 3 minutes.
  5. Slowly add the egg, milk, lemon juice and vanilla essence mixture gradually using the high speed of the food mixer. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
  6. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake to 35-40 minutes.
  7. In the meantime make the icing. Start by adding the vanilla essence to the coffee and set aside.
  8. Cream together the butter and cocoa butter. Use a food mixer at high speed for around 3 minutes.
  9. Add the icing sugar and vanilla-coffee solution roughly a quarter at a time whisking them into the cocoa and butter mixture until smooth and creamy.
  10. Once the cake has cooled completely spread the icing on the top.

NOTES

  • Ensure you take the butter, eggs, milk and lemon out of the fridge around an hour in advance of making the cake to bring them up to room temperature. This will prevent the cake batter from curdling.
  • You can divide the cake batter between two cake tins to make a sandwich cake. In this case treble the quantity of the icing to have enough for the sandwich layer as well as the sides of the cake.
  • When making the icing I use strong decaf coffee to make it more child friendly.
  • To decorate the cake add sprinkles, sliced strawberries or grated chocolate to the top.