Tag Archives: homemade

Making a Semi-Naked Cake (without measuring any ingredients)

Baking is a science. It’s the process of combining exact quantities of ingredients in a certain way to undergo chemical reactions in the oven. A slight deviation in the quantity of ingredients could drastically alter the outcome of your bake. But is it possible to make a cake without weighing or measuring a single ingredient? I decided to find out.

This idea came about because I forgot to bring my digital scales with me to uni and I still wanted to bake. Now that I have acquired a set of scales, I thought that I could track how accurate my weighing/guessing was by checking the weight of the ingredients that went into the sponge – and for clarity, this was the sole purpose of the scales, to show you and myself whether in my 9 years of baking, I knew what 225g of sugar looked like!

I vlogged the process of making and assembling this cake and you can watch the video here! Find out how I got on with the weighing too!

Continue reading to see the full recipe and method!

I decorated the cake in a semi-naked style. Semi-naked cakes have grown in popularity in recent years, demonstrating skill with buttercream and an eye for artistry. Elegant in its sleek and straight design, the semi naked cake has a thin layer of buttercream around the outside of the cake filling in any gaps between layers, exposing just a small amount of the edge of the sponge, tempting you in and creating an attractive neat finish.

The buttercream for your semi-naked cake needs to be softer than your standard cake in order for it to become smooth without dragging cake crumbs into the frosting which would ruin the look. Using a straight-edged tool such as a dough scraper will help you achieve the crisp straight edges of your semi-naked cake. I was actively reading Becky’s post on making a naked cake and it was so helpful – check it out here!!

For the sponge:

225g margarine

225g granulated sugar

225g self raising flour

4 eggs

1 tbsp milk

For the filling:

150g strawberry jam

1 tsp boiling water

For the buttercream:

175g margarine or soft unsalted butter

380g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Purple food colouring

Pearl sprinkles, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the bases of 3 x 18cm sandwich tins. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine with the granulated sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Add in the self raising flour and fold through until incorporated. Then beat in the tablespoon of milk until mixed through.

Divide the cake mixture evenly between the 3 tins and level out the surface. Bake the cakes for around 16 – 18 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, risen and spring back when touched lightly. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

In a small bowl, mix together the jam with the water to loosen slightly. For the buttercream, beat the margarine or unsalted butter for a minute to soften. Add in the icing sugar in 2 batches, beating well until it is light, even and spreadable. Add in the vanilla extract and a tiny amount of purple food colouring to make the buttercream paler.

Level off the tops of all 3 sponges. Place the first sponge layer on your serving board or cake stand and spread over a third of the jam. Take about a quarter of the buttercream and spread over the jam, being careful not to mix the two together. Leave a 1cm border around the edge.

Place the next sponge layer on top, pushing down lightly and repeat the filling process for the next layer, topping with the final sponge. Take the remaining buttercream and cover the tops and sides with buttercream, starting with the sides and filling in any gaps between the layers.

Spread the buttercream around the sides and working in the same direction, take a dough scraper and run the edge around the sides of the cake multiple times to create the smooth polished sides of a semi-naked cake. You want the sponge layers to be peeping through the thin buttercream layer and then to smooth out the top as much as possible (but this is going to be covered in jam). Transfer the remaining buttercream to a piping bag.

Pipe a border of small dots of buttercream around the top edge of the cake. Use the pearl sprinkles to create a repeated pattern inside of the dots. Then create a hexagonal pattern in the very centre of the cake. Flood the remaining exposed buttercream with the leftover jam.

Lastly finish the cake with a few drop ribbons. Touch the end of the bag underneath one buttercream dot and exert pressure on the bag to release buttercream. Continue to exert pressure and as the buttercream comes out, move backwards and along in a semi-circle motion and attaching the buttercream to underneath 4 or 5 dots along the cake and releasing the pressure. The buttercream should naturally drape in an arc and be suspended.

Leave the cake to ‘set’ at room temperature for about an hour before chilling for another hour and then slicing and serving.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and make sure to check out my most recent recipe post for Salted Caramel, White Chocolate and Lemon Savarin!


Salted Caramel White Chocolate and Lemon Savarin

It was Caramel Week on Bake Off and I chose to make a large version of my Salted Caramel, White Chocolate and Lemon Savarins which I made last year when the Bake Off Technical challenge was a savarin.

We saw the bakers struggle with making the caramel for the stroopwafel technical with all of their caramels turning out grainy. However my salted caramel has never come out grainy and the sugar has never crystallised and this is due to the addition of margarine or fat at the right stage; fat inhibits the process of crystallisation so by adding a small amount as the water evaporates, you stop the sugar from being able to crystallise, meaning you can forget about thermometers and brushing down the sides of the pan.

I find that using your eyes and ears to be the best tools for making caramel; the sound and colour of the sugar is often a good indicator when to add ingredients for the salted caramel!

Dusting the mould with the sugar after greasing creates this fantastic dark crackly crust on the savarins and helps to prevent it from sticking to the inside of the silicone doughnut mould, which gives the fantastic shape of the savarin. It’s easy to peel away too when you need to turn it out which is an added bonus! I have used this same mould to create a Giant Victoria Sponge Donut Cake too so click on the name to check it out!

I made this bake to take along to The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice and I thought I was in with a good chance of having it tasted by the panel but alas the producers thought otherwise! This means that you’re going to have to make it and let me know how it tastes!!

For the savarin dough

300g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

50g granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting

4g salt

1 x 7g sachets of fast action dried yeast

Zest of ½ lemon

2 egg

60g margarine, melted

About 90ml warm milk

For the lemon syrup

120g granulated sugar

75ml boiling water

Zest of a lemon

30ml lemon juice

For the salted caramel

125g granulated sugar

70ml water

20g margarine

150ml double cream

½ tsp table salt

For decoration

50g white chocolate

In the bowl of a free standing mixer, add in the flour. Place the sugar and salt on one of the bowl and add the yeast to the other side of the bowl to avoid retarding the yeast. Add in the lemon zest and on the lowest speed with the dough hook attachment, mix to combine.

While the mixer is running, add in the 2 eggs. Whisk the melted margarine with the milk and then pour it all into the stand mixer. Turn the speed to medium to combine all the ingredients into a dough before switching up to medium high and leaving to knead for about 6 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and then turn out the dough onto a floured surface.

Roll the dough to coat in flour and then knead for a further 2 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and soft but not sticky. The dough has been kneaded enough when the dough springs back fully when a floured finger is inserted. Transfer to a lightly floured bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for around 75 – 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile prepare the salted caramel. In a clean saucepan, stir together the granulated sugar with the water. Bring the sugar water up to a boil, stirring occasionally. The contents of the pan should be bubbling rapidly and loudly. At this point, add in the margarine and swirl the pan to melt. Allow the sugar to continue to boil and turn to caramel.

When the caramel is a deep amber colour, pour in all of the double cream and carefully use a wooden spoon to mix until the cream has emulsified. Return to the heat for 30 seconds stirring before adding in the salt and transferring to a heatproof bowl to cool. It should be fairly fluid and not too thick as it will thicken upon setting. Leave to cool.

Grease thoroughly one half of a 21cm silicone doughnut mould and dust well with granulated sugar, pouring away the excess

Once the dough has proved, lift out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds to knock the air out. Take the dough and roll out into a sausage 5cm wide and join up the ends. Roll the ring between your hands to smooth out the join and make the ring equal in width. You may need to push the dough down to flatten the top slightly. Then cover with clingfilm and prove for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake the savarin for around 30 – 35 minutes and testing the doneness is the same; you may wish to cover with foil if the top is getting too dark for your liking.

While the savarin is baking, prepare the lemon syrup. Stir together all of the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil. The syrup should be fairly runny and not too thick and a light golden colour – around 110°C on a thermometer.

When the savarin has come out of the oven, turn it out onto a cooling rack and pour in enough of the lemon syrup to cover the base of the mould and return the savarin to the mould. Then drizzle over the rest of the syrup over the top and leave to soak and cool for about an hour or so. Then level off the top of the savarin so it has a flat base. Turn upside down onto a cooling rack, so the smooth side is on the bottom.

Place the cooled caramel into a piping bag and drizzle it over the savarin using a forward and backward motion working your way around the ring. Repeat this for the white chocolate and leave to set.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and make sure to check out my other Bake Off recipes too:

Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls inspired by Cake Week

Linzer Sandwich Cookies inspired by Biscuit Week

Classic Sultana and Apricot Teacakes inspired by Bread Week

Classic Sultana and Apricot Teacakes

Teacakes always remind me of my primary school days when me and my mum used to go to the breakfast club before school and have a toasted teacake for 30p. Times have changed and the teacakes in the supermarket just don’t compare to freshly baked homemade teacakes, warm from the oven and with lots of butter on them!


My twist on the classic teacake recipe which usually contains mixed peel or currants is to replace them with dried apricots. Dried apricots add little pockets of sweetness when you bite into them as well as great colour. I always find sultanas and dried apricots to be fairly dry and shrivelled (surprisingly this word didn’t pop up yesterday ahem!) so any time they go into my recipes, I always rehydrate them in boiling water before using.

There’s an added advantage to this step; once the fruit has been plumped up and has been drained, the fruit still retains lots of the heat from the hot water so when it gets incorporated in the dough, it’s hot enough to really give the yeast a good boost but not kill it so the dough rises amazingly when proving – it had doubled in size in around 50 minutes, great considering the dough is heavily enriched with egg, milk and sugar.

When kneading the dough, it should be soft but not sticky. As I always seem to add too much liquid to the dough, I always make sure that I put less flour (around 30-50g) less in the dough in the first instance so that I knead in the remaining flour, making the bread the perfect texture. I also find that keeping a dough scraper or rubber spatula on hand to free the dough from the table is always handy – think of It as your other hand!

Like Stacey did in the show, I brush the teacakes with milk which makes them softer than if I used egg wash. I prefer using milk instead of egg wash, both of which do the same thing; the protein in both the milk and egg undergo the Maillard reaction when baked which is what gives it that attractive golden brown colour. But I always find that egg wash is always wasted and you can’t really use it for anything else but you can control the amount of milk you use.

This recipe makes 10 large teacakes and even after flattening them to 1.5cm before the second prove, they ended up slightly larger than the teacakes you would find in the supermarket – basically they didn’t fit in my toaster 😦 however they were fine when placed under the grill to toast. You could very well make 12.

120g sultanas

100g dried apricots, chopped to the same size as the sultanas

550g strong white flour

50g granulated sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

6g salt

2 x 7g sachets of fast action dried yeast

1 egg

40g margarine

About 250ml milk

About 100ml boiling water, plus extra to rehydrate the fruits

In a bowl, add the sultanas and chopped dried apricots and cover with boiling water to rehydrate. Set aside until needed.

In a large bowl, place 520g of the strong white flour and add the sugar, spices, salt and yeast, placing the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl so the yeast is not retarded by the salt. Make a well in the centre and add in the egg.

In another bowl, combine together the margarine, milk and 100ml boiling water, stirring to melt the margarine, heating in the microwave briefly if required. Stir well and pour around three quarters of the liquid and use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together. Add enough of the liquid to form a soft sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, using the reserved flour to dust.

Drain the rehydrated fruit of its water and set aside.

Knead the dough for around 5-6 minutes by hand until the dough begins to look smooth. Flatten the dough out and place around three-quarters of the rehydrated fruit in the centre – it should feel warm but not too hot to the touch. Fold the dough to cover the fruit and continue to knead the dough for a further 5 minutes, gradually adding in all of the fruit and adding slightly more flour to bring the dough back to the soft not sticky texture from before adding the fruit. Shape the dough into a ball and place into a floured bowl to prove for about an hour or until doubled in size.

When the dough has proved, the inside structure should look something like this (trypophobes look away!!). The structure is irregularly aerated and light too.

Lift out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds to dispel large air pockets. Weigh the dough and divide into 10/12 equally (mine were around 120g each for a batch of 10).

To shape, lift and tuck the sides of the dough underneath itself and repeat until the surface looks smooth and the bottom should be rough. Use your hand to flatten the dough down to around 1-1.5cm thick and place onto a baking tray lined with lightly greased baking parchment. Repeat for the remaining teacakes and cover loosely with clingfilm and allow to prove for a further 30 minutes.

Once proved, preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the surface of the risen teacakes lightly with some milk and then bake the teacakes for around 15 – 17 minutes until the teacakes are a strong rich brown colour, the bases have browned and there is a hollow sound when you tap the bottoms. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

The teacakes are best served sliced in half and warm straight from the oven with a slab of butter but are just as good the next day sliced in half, toasted and again with a slab of butter and even some apricot jam!

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and make sure to check out my recipe for Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls inspired by Cake Week and my recipe for Linzer Sandwich Cookies inspired by Biscuit Week!

No Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream

Inspired by Nadiya Hussain’s rhubarb ripple ice cream that she made last week on her British Food Adventure, I am fuelling my obsession with black sesame and I’m sharing my recipe for my No Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream.

The black sesame ice cream has this wonderful charcoal grey colour which I think is so visually pleasing and attractive. What’s more, you certainly don’t expect the nutty, bitter and smoky flavour of black sesame to come from this grey coloured ice cream and it’s that flavour which lingers after an initial hit of creamy sweetness.

Both Nigella and Mary as well as Nadiya have also demonstrated this no churn ice cream method on their shows and it really is so simple. Instead of using a crème anglaise base for the ice cream, double cream and condensed milk remove all the hard work of making custard and using an ice cream maker.

Condensed milk contains most of the sugar you need and because it is condensed, the moisture from the milk has been evaporated giving a creamy ice cream that doesn’t contain large ice crystals which would be good for a sorbet or a granita. Whipped double cream makes the ideal ice cream texture which is light and takes away the churning process. Golden syrup, or liquid glucose, reduces the firmness of the ice cream when set and I like to add evaporated milk for a similar reason.

If you cannot find any black sesame powder, you can make it yourself very easily – and remember it is very versatile! Buy a whole load of black sesame seeds and toast them over a medium heat in a dry pan until they are fragrant and then grind them in a food processor or blender until a fine and slightly damp powder forms. Put into a zip lock bag or an airtight container in the fridge and discard when the powder begins to lose its freshness.

Make sure to also check out my Dark Chocolate and Black Sesame Biscuits!

300ml double cream

225g condensed milk

50ml evaporated milk

4 tsp golden syrup (or liquid glucose)

50g black sesame powder

3 tsp black sesame seeds, plus extra to sprinkle

Pour all of the ingredients except for the black sesame seeds into a large bowl and whisk until it has increased in volume and become thick but does not hold soft peaks. Scrape down the bowl using a spatula and fold through the black sesame seeds.

Transfer to a plastic container, scraping down the bowl completely – don’t waste any of that black sesame goodness!! Sprinkle more black sesame seeds over the top and then put the lid on the container.

Place the container into a bag – I recommend using one that you can get at the fruit/veg section in the supermarket – and then freeze for around 6 hours or until the ice cream has set and is firm.

Serve the ice cream either in a waffle cone or in a bowl. Finish the ice cream by sprinkling over some toasted black sesame seeds.


Chinese Coconut Milk Pudding (椰汁糕)

One of my favourite sweet dim sum to have at yum cha is 椰汁糕 or Coconut Milk Pudding. It’s a very light little morsel of coconutty goodness and is also wonderfully refreshing but doesn’t require a lot of effort to make yourself at home either!

To get the correct balance of coconut flavour, I use an almost one to one ratio of coconut milk to whole milk; using too much coconut milk can make it very overpowering. Most tins of coconut milk are also sold in 400ml tins so you don’t have to worry about having any leftover. One tip is to use a chopstick or a fork to give the contents of the tin a mix before pouring into the saucepan as the coconut milk usually separates into water and the coconut cream and if the pudding mixture is not well mixed, it tends to separate out later on.

I prefer using gelatine powder as opposed to the sheets which all the chefs seems to use on TV. I find using the weight of a powder is much easier to control the set of the pudding and it’s also much cheaper too; I stocked up on gelatine powder when I went to Hong Kong however it can be easily found online.

150ml boiling water

20g gelatine powder

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

350ml whole milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

100g granulated sugar

Dissolve the gelatine powder in the boiling water, stirring until completely lump free. Set aside.

In a saucepan over a medium heat, stir together the coconut milk, whole milk, vanilla extract and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Then add in the gelatin mixture and stir again to dissolve.

Strain the mixture into a deep rectangular or square plastic container and leave to cool for 30 minutes before covering and refrigerating for 4 hours or until it is set; it should have a firm wobble and come away from the edges cleanly when you pull the pudding away.

To serve the pudding, flip out the pudding onto a chopping board and use a knife to slice into even cubes.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Easter Eggs

You might not be left with many Easter eggs by the end of this Easter weekend however I beg you to save a few of them to make my White Chocolate Cheesecake-filled Easter Eggs; you’ll finish them even quicker than the Easter egg itself!

My choice of egg are the eggs that you might use for an Easter egg hunt so maybe persuade the young ones to hand over a few to make these cheesecake eggs. The eggs I used were from Co-op which I received as part of their #GoodEgg campaign. (I have not been asked to promote the Co-op or their product, I am stating where the eggs are from so that you can see what I am working with for reference, other supermarkets may have similar products available in their stores).

Slicing the eggs in half is very tricky and getting perfectly shaped halves was rare, as you can see! Hence you will need more than 6 eggs because some of them will crack in an odd place rendering them unusable. But reserve the broken pieces as they go brilliantly inside the cheesecake mixture! The quantity of cheesecake is enough to fill 12 half eggs as well as half of a large Easter egg or 2 large halves. The cheesecake recipe is adapted from the fantastic Becky over at https://biscuitbases.wordpress.com.

12 x 17g hollow milk chocolate Easter eggs, plus one half of a large hollow Easter egg or 1 large hollow Easter egg

100g white chocolate

200g cream cheese, at room temperature

25g icing sugar, sifted

175ml double cream

Use a serrated knife to halve the Easter eggs as best as you can and place one in each cavity of a 12 hole bun tin. Keep any broken pieces that fall off in a small bowl and break them up into small pieces.

Break the white chocolate into chunks and place into a microwaveable bowl. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds and then in 20 second intervals until fully melted, stirring between each interval.

Working quickly, soften the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sifted icing sugar and beat in until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate and fold through until even. Then mix through the reserved Easter egg pieces.

Whisk the double cream until it holds a soft but thick peak; do not overwhip or it will split. Fold the whipped cream through the cheesecake mixture. It should be relatively thick and hold its shape.

Fill the hollow egg halves with the cheesecake mixture. You can do this with just a spoon or you can use a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle however the chocolate pieces can block up the nozzle. Place into the fridge for 2 hours to set the cheesecake mixture for the small eggs and 4 hours for the large eggs.

Finish with a few sprinkles and mini eggs and transfer the eggs into a paper case.

Giant Homemade Jaffa Cake

We were all transfixed to The Great British Bake Off when Mary set them the challenge of making 12 Jaffa cakes. Whether it was making sure the cakes weren’t stuck to the tin or putting on the jelly the right way up, there were a lot of hurdles to overcome. I even tried them myself in a 90 minute time limit with varying degrees of success. But I’m giving it another go, this time without a 90 minute time limit but also making a giant version; this is my (edited) Giant Jaffa Cake recipe!

Mary’s recipe calls for a whisked sponge, which is practically impossible for me in my uni kitchen since I don’t even have an electric whisk! All of my bakes have been made completely by hand, from my Crystallised Stem Ginger Cookies to Red Velvet Hazelnut Biscotti. And while I’m happy to whisk up a 1 egg white meringue, I don’t fancy whisking 3 eggs with sugar by hand until the ribbon stage so I use a basic sponge recipe for this cake.

The relatively small amount of water used to make the jelly means it has a relatively firm set, ideal for slicing up when serving the cake as well as transferring on top of the cake. I didn’t get it dead centre the first time but I found that the set of the jelly meant it was fairly forgiving when it needed moving.

1 x 135g pack of orange jelly

200ml boiling water

125g margarine

125g granulated sugar

2 eggs

140g self raising flour

Zest and juice of 1/2 an orange

140g dark chocolate

30g margarine

2 tbsp runny honey

12 Jaffa cakes, halved

Line a 18cm sandwich tin with a few layers of clingfilm, making them as smooth as possible with some overhang.

Cut up the pack of jelly into cubes and place into a heatproof jug. Pour over the boiling water and stir until the jelly has dissolved. Place the sandwich tin into the fridge and then pour in the orange jelly and refrigerate for around 2 hours. When you are ready to bake, remove the tin from the fridge so the jelly comes to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin.

In a bowl, cream together the margarine, the sugar and orange zest until it is light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one by one beating well between each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl between mixing. Sift in the self raising flour and baking powder and using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Lastly mix through the orange juice until the cake batter is smooth and even.

Transfer the mixture into the tin, using the back of the spatula to get the surface as level as possible. Bake the cake for around 20 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, risen, springs back to the touch and an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool, level off the top of the cake using a serrated knife to get a smooth top. When the cake is cool and the jelly has set, flip the jelly onto the centre of the cake.

Prepare the chocolate glaze by breaking up the dark chocolate into a microwaveable bowl and add the margarine and honey. Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring between each one until the chocolate glaze is smooth and very shiny. Leave to cool slightly for 5 minutes.

Now working quickly, use a palette knife to spread the glaze over the cake and jelly, covering the jelly and the visible top of the cake to get that distinctive Jaffa Cake shape. Then before the glaze sets, place the halved Jaffa cakes on top of the jelly, arranging them in an overlapping circle. Leave the glaze to set at room temperature.