Tag Archives: cake

No bake: Watermelon cake

watermelon cake

This week saw the return of The Great British Bake Off to our TV screens, it’s one of my very few must watch programmes and i’m very excited to be tuning in every wednesday over the next few weeks to watch the competition unfold. It was great to see the series kick off with some magnificent cakes, (And some less so!) its also a hot topic of conversation amongst my foodie friends, so strangely enough all this baking got me thinking about not baking.

Sometimes there just isn’t time, sometimes one of these fabled warm weather days arrives in the UK and the thought of turning the oven on is just a little too much to bear and sometimes its good to have a healthy cake on the menu. It just so happened that this weekend the weather has been a little brighter and a summer BBQ was called for to celebrate this momentous occasion. C and I planned a feast, pork belly, burgers, sausages, meat, meat, meat basically! So we decided watermelon would provided the perfect antidote for desert

We live on the Narborough rd in Leicester, Aka “the Narb” to us locals where one can pretty much acquire anything your heart desires, it’s entirely possible to exist solely on the offerings of the Narbourgh rd, should you want to.

I’ve spotted quite a few enormous watermelons on my weekend strolls and decided that this was to be the weekend to purchase the largest watermelon I could find. 10kg to be precise.

So, I carried the Watermelon,

In a blue plastic bag Down the Narbourough rd, it wasn’t terribly glamorous but my head was spinning with ideas of what to make. Watermelon vodka is always a winner at adult BBQs but I was tempted to try something a little different and created this refreshing three tier watermelon cake instead.

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The good news is watermelon cakes are pretty simple to make, all you really need is a good sharp knife. Here follows an explanation of how to achieve this for next time you have an enormous watermelon handy. There are many virtuous qualities to this cake also. It’s vegan, refined sugar free, gluten free, nut free so no need to feel guilty about diving in!

Slice your watermelon across the middle into 3 even slices to create the three tiers. Cut circles out of the flesh inside the watermelon, for this I used bottomless cake rings, 8″ for the base, 6″ for the middle and 4″ for the top tier. once you have the three tiers cut you can sharpen up any edges or straighten the tops of each tier if necessary so each layer stacks evenly. That being said, if the cakes are a little wonky this adds a little drama so don’t worry too much! Stack the layers on top of each other. No dowels needed as the watermelon itself is pretty sturdy. Once stacked, it’s time for the fun bit, get creative and decorate your watermelon cake with fresh fruit and berries and if you have any to hand edible flowers work a treat. Here i’ve used nasturtium, lavender, sweet peas, fennel and dahlia petals so the cake is entirely edible.

So next time you fee like baking consider this colourful, refreshing and above all healthy option, and of course you could also douse the cake with vodka too if you wanted to liven things up a bit!

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Bake: Blood orange, almond and pistachio cakes

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As much as I love living in Leicester I’m often a little envious when I see London based bloggers nabbing all the rare and exotic produce. I know the world is a small place now and most ingredients are only a click of a mouse away but today I’m talking about the fresh stuff, the ingredients that won’t fit through your letterbox and that deserve to be selected and packed into a brown paper bag by your own fair hand. This leads me to the blood orange, I’ve been reeling at the torturous sight of all the blood oranges popping up on Instagram lately. From Holly’s beautiful blood orange, bitter chocolate and honey cupcakes to Ed Kimber’s Jaffa cakes there’s been some inspirational baking happening and i’ve been dying to sniff out some of these little tinkers for myself. With the season coming to an end I had almost given up hope, that is until C and I went out to dinner at Carluccios last week.

C spotted them first, I was so distracted by the multi coloured pasta selection I had neglected to check out the window display. Nestled amongst the usual meringues, biscuits and chocolate tarts sat a crate full of Sicilian Moro blood oranges just waiting to be snaffled. They are a lot smaller than your average orange with a red tinge to the skin and crimson red flesh. At 50p a pop they are slightly pricier, but they do have quite a bit more to offer, aside from being the most beautiful orange you could ever hope to cut into they are higher in antioxidants and superior in flavour. The first thing I did was squeeze one and drink it fresh. Amazing. Next job was to deliberate over what I could make with them, a tough decision which took quite some time with so many ideas and only 6 little fruits to play with. Sunday lunch was in the making so I eventually plumped for cake. Not just any old cake, something puddingy and indulgent for a sunday afternoon. This recipe only uses two blood oranges so I had enough left over to make a sorbet toO.

This makes 4 generous cakes or alternatively the recipe will work in an 18cm tin, just increase the bake time to 45-50 minutes. DSC00815

You will need:

  • 4 dariole moulds
  • 100g unsalted butter plus extra to grease the moulds
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g pistachios
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 blood oranges

Pre- heat the oven to 145ºC prepare the tins by melting a little butter and painting it into the inside of the mould. Zest one of the blood oranges and reserve. Thinly slice the other blood orange so you have 4 perfect cross sections, flick out and discard any seeds. Place the slices into the base of the moulds. Juice the remaining blood oranges and distribute the juice between the moulds.

Lightly chop the pistachios and toast in the oven for 5-8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.

Cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Whilst this is happening weigh the almonds, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and keep close to hand. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork until well mixed. Slowly add 1/3 of the egg into the butter and sugar mix and beat well to incorporate, then add a spoonful of the almond mix. Continue to add the egg and almonds in alterations until all incorporated. Divide the mixture between the 4 moulds and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inverted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

These cakes are best served warm, once they are cool enough to handle run a knife around the outside of the cake to loosen then invert onto a plate, sprinkle with a little ground pistachio (I ground mine in a coffee grinder- a new toy, massive excitement!)

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So exotic Leicester wins again and I think I’ve ticked off all my winter food wishes this season. I’m ready for spring now, bring on the rhubarb…

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MAKE: Allotment Lemonade and Loaf Cake

Today we have a guest post from the lovely Ruth from Clarendon Spark – we’re a little late in posting it (oops!) but hopefully you’ll still be able to find the ingredients in season…

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I live a literal stone’s throw from Queens Road Allotments in Clarendon Park in the south of Leicester. I’ve been fascinated by the allotments since I moved to the area and couldn’t wait for the opportunity to get a peek inside, so I jumped at the chance to pop along to their open day and produce sale.

I was immediately captivated by the place and spent over an hour exploring the plots, taking photos and talking to the allotmenteers. You can find out more about this little oasis of green tranquility in my article, Queens Road Allotments, over on my Clarendon Spark blog.

I came away from the produce sale with a bumper crop of goodies and I was determined to do them justice with some tasty makes that really capture the late summer season.

These two recipes are simple, speedy, and a great way to showcase a glut of gorgeous home-grown ingredients…

MAKE: Blackberry Lemonade

Blackberry bushes were everywhere at the allotments, growing in between all the plots and bursting with glossy ripe fruit. This timely recipe is simplicity itself but the result is super tasty and seriously refreshing. Serve your lemonade in jam jars for extra hipster points and garnish with plenty of ice, fresh lemon slices and whole blackberries.

If you want to make it boozy you can add a few glugs of vodka to the mix and you’ve got yourself a homemade blackberry lemonade cocktail.

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You will need:

  • 20-30 blackberries
  • Juice from 3 lemons
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Still or sparkling mineral water.

What to do:

  • Simmer the lemon juice and the sugar together in a pan over a low heat for about five minutes until the sugar has dissolved, then leave the mixture to cool
  • Add the blackberries and blend the whole lot together then strain it through a sieve
  • Pop the ‘cordial’ in a jug along with some ice and add water until the drink is your preferred strength.

BAKE: Apple, Plum and Courgette Loaf Cake

I’m a big fan of simple loaf-style cakes which have a slightly savoury feel to them.

Using wholewheat self-raising flour in this recipe gives the resulting cake a satisfying bready quality, and a hefty slice with a mug of tea makes for a substantial mid-afternoon pick-me-up. If you prefer, you can use white self-raising flour instead and drizzle a bit of citrusy icing over the top for an altogether more delicate dessert.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can use pretty much any combination of fruits and vegetables depending on what’s in season and what you have to hand. The addition of mixed spice gives the whole cake a warm, spicy, slightly autumnal flavour.

I was a little too impatient to scoff my cake and cut it while it was still warm which is why it looks a bit scruffy on the photo – leaving it to cool completely will give you a neater looking slice!

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You will need:

  • 70g apple, grated
  • 70g plum, grated
  • 70g courgette, grated
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp mixed spice.

What to do:

  • Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
  • Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, bicarb and mixed spice together, then stir in the grated fruit (yes – it really is that easy!)
  • Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

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These incredibly straightforward, rustic recipes are such a great way of showing off home-grown fruit and veg, and knowing that the key ingredients I used had been loving produced just across the road made me extra proud when sharing these makes.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I have and that they prove a great showcase for your own home-grown hand-picked harvest.

Thanks Ruth! And just a reminder you can find more of her words and pictures over at Clarendon Spark

And for another idea about how to use up blackberries with an adult twist, take a look at E’s Blackberry Gin recipe

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Day 2: Something you made, Ginger Parkin

Ginger Parkin ingredients

I’m off to a bonfire party this evening at my friend catherine’s house, so of course I had to bake her a catherine wheel cake. I’ve made a ginger parkin in my favourite nordic wear cake tin which i’ve used before for a Clandestine cake club bake, i’ve also added a little sparkle for extra drama.

This is a really moist sticky ginger cake with a big kick of ginger. You can’t beat a good ginger cake, for me there needs to be a lot of ginger, especially at this time of year when it’s cold. I’m including fresh ginger in this recipe for extra warmth as it’s looking likely to be a wet and windy evening!

I made mine in a kitchen aid mixer but this is sheer laziness and the cake could just as easily be made by hand with a mixing bowl and hand whisk

Here’s how to make it:

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 135g black treacle
  • 135g golden syrup
  • 240g dark brown sugar
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 125g porridge oats
  • 1/2 a tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 15g ground ginger
  • a pinch of salt
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 30g of stem ginger in syrup finely chopped
  • 10g of fresh ginger
  • the juice of 1 lime

ginger parkin mix

Pre-heat the oven to 140°C. Grease the cake tin liberally with melted butter to ensure an easy release after baking. Melt the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, black treacle and butter together over a gentle heat in a heavy based saucepan. Once all the butter is melted and you have a thick sticky liquid take the pan of the heat and set aside to cool a little.

to prepare the fresh ginger peel off the skin with a knife or a vegetable peeler and chop finely. Place the diced fresh ginger and lime juice into a measuring jug and blend to a puree with a stick blender, set this aside to add later.

Place the flour, oats, ground ginger, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl then place the milk and eggs into a measuring jug and beat with a fork to combine. Add the cooled  syrup mixture to the flour and oats and whisk together, then gently pour in the egg and milk mixture, whisking as you go to incorporate the egg mix. Finally fold in the ginger puree and chopped stem ginger. Pour the mix into the prepared cake tin and place onto the middle rack of the preheat oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inverted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

ginger parkin

Allow the cake to cool slightly then invert onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. When ready to serve transfer to a serving dish or cake board, indoor sparklers are optional!

catherine wheel cake

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Our week: 15th-21st June

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The week B had…

Made: A tasty lasagna for Fathers Day (vaguely using this Hairy Bikers recipe – but we kept the pasta!) It was only afterwards dad told me he doesn’t usually like lasagna…

Did: Showed lots of potential buyers around the house I’m renting… I’ll be very sad to move out

Spent: Magazines are a guilty pleasure of mine – but I can never justify the cost…! Handily there’s a stall on Leicester Market which sells out-of-date issues – and three mags for £3 doesn’t seem quite such a bad deal

If you click on one link this weekend: I found this post on Yes and Yes – and the comments it generated – about donating to charity an interesting read

victoria sponge layer cake

The week E had…

Made: A Victoria sponge layer cake, with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream to celebrate one of my best friend’s birthdays

Did: C and I have spent a huge amount of time playing with Truffle the kitten, she’s very demanding and very very cute!

Spent: Yet more Glastonbury preparation, only a few days to go now………andI managed to find a very sensible pair of walking trainers just in time!

If you click on one link this weekend: I am dying to have a go at making my own photographic fabric after reading a tutorial over at how about orange

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