Victoria sponge with fresh cream and fresh berries

Hi all,

it has been way to long since my last recipe, I know! I hope you will all enjoy this amazing cake that I baked some time ago: the base is a traditional sponge (recipe HERE), filled with lots of fresh cream and fresh fruit. In this case I used different types of berries (and added some edible flowers and a butterfly)

It’s a perfect cake for any occasion (from birthdays to Christmas).

Let me know your comments

Chocolate cake – Christmas version

With a bit of delay, here is the first Christmas recipe for 2017. This Christmas tree chocolate cake is very easy to bake and it is made to impress.

What you need:

  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 50 g self raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 75 g cocoa powder
  • 15 g corn flour
  • almond essence
  • salt

How to make it:

In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until you have a creamy mixture. Sift in the flour, the corn flour, the cocoa powder and incorporate well until smooth. Add the almond essence and stir once more.

Beat the egg whites with the salt until peaks form and add them to the batter with smooth movements, mixing from the center of the bowl.

Add the batter to a Christmas tree shaped mold and bake in the oven at 190 C for 35 mins.

When the cake is completely cooled down use your fantasy to decorate it. In this cake I just used sugar ribbons and snowflakes and icing sugar.

Blueberries and almond cake

This is the right season for berries and this is a perfect recipe to use them. It is a delicious and moist cake that combines the nice flavour of the berries with the crunchy taste of the almonds.
The recipe below is for a square tin of 15 cms – baking a regular sized cake would be too much for the 2 of us but if you need to make a bigger cake (ie 20 cm square or round tin) you will need to double the ingredients below.

What you need:

  • 75g unsalted butter, softned
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 125 g self raising flour
  • 7 g baking powder (1/2 tsp)
  • 80 g blanched almonds, halved
  • 200 g blueberries
  • 1 large egg
  • 75 ml milk

How to make it:
Preheat the oven at 180C° and grease and line your cake tin. Gently wash the blueberries and let them dry before using them.

Cream the sugar with the butter until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Add the egg and work well until all ingredients are combined.

Add the flour and the baking powder (sifted), the almonds and the milk and whisk well. Once you have a nice mixture you need to incorporate the mjority of the blueberries. Spoon the mixture in the tin and add the remaining bluberries at the top.

Bake your cake in the oven for 35 mins approx – check your cake while baking as if it begins to brown you would need to cover it with some baking paper or foil so it will cook evenly.

Test with a toothpick if your cake is ready and if it comes out clean you can remove the cake from the oven and let it cool down.

Enjoy your cake when completely cooled down with some fresh blueberries or if you want indulge with some fresh cream.

Cranberries and pistacchio oat cookies

These cookies are Amazing: I baked them for my husband who is back to school again. He needed a little help with sugars so I decided to bake these beautiful treats.

What you need:

  • 100g pistacchio nuts
  • 100 g unsalted butter,softened
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1tbsp honey;
  • 125 g self raising flour, sifted
  • 125 g oats
  • pinch of salt

 

How to make it:

Pre-heat the oven at 190° and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Mix together the butter and the sugar unitl smooth (better to use an electric whisk). Add the egg, the vanilla extract, the honey and whisk again. Add the flour, the oats, the salt, the pistacchio nuts and the cranberries. Mix well until combined.

You need now to divide the dough in small little pieces (like a walnut), place them on a baking sheet leaving enough space for the cookies to cook. Flatten the cookies slightly and bake them for 10 minutes. Leave the cookies to cool down.

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Tips:

  • if the dough is too stiff you can add little water or milk;
  • cookies need to be flatten before baking them so they cook evenly;
  • if the cookies look soft after 10 mins remove them from the oven: they will get the cookie consistency once they are completely cooled down. I learnt this after several burnt batches.

 

 

 

Naked fancies

I received an amazing recipes book about naked cakes (“naked cakes” by Hannah Miles) so I decided to try one called Naked fancies: I hope you enjoy this super natural recipe. I believe if you have a bit of practice this can be used for Weddings, b-days and any other occasion you have to celebrate.

What you need:

  • 115 g butter, softened
  • 115 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp buttermilk or sour cream
  • 4o ml rose or violet liqueur

For the buttercream:

  • 300 g icing sugar
  • 30 g softened butter
  • 1 tbsp milk

For the glaze:

  • 280 g icing sugar
  • 50 ml rose or violet liqueur

How to make it
Mix the butter and the sugar with an electric whisk. Add the eggs to the mixture and continue to whisk. Sift in the flour and the baking powder, add the sour cream and work all the ingredients until incorporated.

Spoon the cake batter into a cake pan and bake for 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven (180°C). Once the caked is ready let it cool down and start preparing the icing.

Mix the icing sugar and the butter adding little milk if the mixture is too stiff.

Cut the cake in half horizzontaly, drizzle in some liqueur (the original recipe says violet liqueur: I used rose liqueur) and spread a layer of buttercream. Top the cake with the second half of the cake and let refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cut the cake in 16 mini cakes.

Make the glaze by heating the icing sugar in a saucepan with some liqueur and about 100 ml water until you obtain a translucent liquid. Spoon the icing over the cakes and decorate with some edible flower or anything your fantasy suggests.

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Chocolate cookies

An evergreen: chocolate chips cookies!

What you need:

  • 420 g flour;
  • 250g butter;
  • 200 sugar;
  • 200 cane sugar;
  • 2 eggs;
  • vanilla extract;
  • chocolate chips (as much as desired);
  • 1 tsp of salt;
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda;

How to make it:

Pre-heat the oven to 190C°. Soften the butter to room temperature, when softened beat it with the sugar (both sugars) until you get a light creamy result. Add the eggs, one at the time and then the vanilla extract. Add the sifted flour until all the ingredients are well combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir them quickly. You should have now a quite thick dough.

Line a baking tray and distribute the dough by using a spoon: make sure to leave a bit of space between the cookies as they will grow while cooking. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Make sure you do not over bake them (as I did with the first batch) as the cookies will burn!! Remove the tray from the oven and let the cookies rest for few minutes. Enjoy your amazing cookies!

 

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Christmas chocolate mousse

Ho ho ho, Christmas time is coming so it is time to start posting some recipes for the festive season. The first one is going to be a Dark Chocolate Mousse: DELICIOUS! Not only this recipe tastes good but you don’t need eggs or flour to make it so perfect in case of allergies. Hope you enjoy it!

What you need:
•250 g dark chocolate;
•300 ml double fresh cream;
• digestive biscuits (optional);

How to make it:
Before starting with the instructions I want to give you some recommandations: nr1) use extra dark chocolate (min 75% cocoa): I know not everybody loves dark chocolate however it is important for the good result of the recipe. Using a milk chocolate or any other type will not deliver the same result. The fresh cream is sweet enough on its own; nr 2) make sure the bowl where you will whip the cream is clean and non greasy otherwise you will not get a good result.
The first thing to do in this case is whipping the fresh cream: pour the fresh cream in a mixer and mix for about 2/3 minutes or until soft peak stage. Keep your cream in the fridge.

Melt the chocolate through the bain marie technique (it basically means melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water) so you don’t burn it out. Keep mixing your chocoalte until it is completely melted. Remove the chocolate from the hob and let it cool down for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Gently add the melted chocolate to the cream and with movements from the centre to the outside of the bowl, keep mixing until you incorporate all the chocolate.

You can now serve in glasses or small cups and guarnish with biscuits and with the remained cream. This is the result:

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Few more tips:
– this mousse should be kept at room temparature. If you wish to prepare it the day before remember to take it out from the fridge at least 30 mins before eating it. If not, it will be still super tasty but a bit harder to eat;
– this mousse can be also used to cover any other dessert: cupcakes, cakes, croissants…feel free to use it as desired.

The perfect sponge

I have just entered a competition at work to celebrate the International Baking Day and I have to bake a cake which is representative of my country, Italy. Now I will not yet provide any information about the actual cake but I am going to post the recipe to make the perfect sponge.

The sponge is a great base for many recipes and you need to know how to do it! There are different ways of making sponge  but here I will focus on the one which I consider the quickest (not the easiest). Before starting I would like to point out one important aspect about the sponge: there are so many recipes in the web which use butter, baking powder and other ingredients. Now the typical  sponge recipe does not include any fat or any baking powder: the air incorporated while beating the eggs will work as baking powder. You can trust me that if you follow the steps below your cake will be perfect!

What you need:

  • 150g sugar;
  • 150g flour (or 75g flour and 75g potato starch);
  • pinch of salt;
  • 5 eggs;

How to make it:

Pre-heat the oven at 180ºC and line a baking tray:  a 24 cm baking tray is ok.

Using an electric whisk beat the eggs & sugar together till you obtain a nice and smooth mixture. Incorporate the salt. Be careful not to over beat the eggs otherwise your sponge will be crumbly and this is not what you want.

Sift the flour in the mixture. Little by little and starting from the centre of the bowl incorporate all the flour to the mixture. You need to incorporate the flour with delicate movements so the air bubbles remain in the mixture. As pointed out earlier on there is no baking powder in your sponge; the secret for a well risen sponge is to make sure the mixture incorporates enough air when beating the eggs.

Transfer the mixture to the baking tray and bake for 40 mins. Let the mixture cool down and then slice it in two layers. Before filling the cake remember to soak the internal part of the sponge with some liquid: it can be any type of spirit (I love with Amaretto or rum) or simply lemon juice or milk, depending on the topping. This type of cake is normally dryer than other cakes so you need to fix this aspect.

Buon appetito!

Yoghurt and cinnamon cake

Ingredients:

  • 200g flour;
  • 150 g sugar;
  • 300g  natural yoghurt;
  • 2 tbsp oil;
  • 15 g baking powder;
  • 1 tsp honey;
  • 1 tsp cinnamon;
  • 1 pinch of salt;
  • 1 orange: juice and grind;

How to make it: Grease a baking tin. Sift together the flour, the sugar, the baking powder and the cinnamon. In a bowl combine the yoghurt, the honey, the oil, the orange juice and orange grind. Gently add the solid ingredients to the liquid ones till everything is well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes at 180°C. Let the cake cool down and sift it with some icing sugar before serving.

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