Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Boozy Bramble Cake

Last week I went to a Clandestine Cake Club event in Reading. This was our first event for a few months as everyone had been busy over the summer. The theme was cocktails and the organiser of our group chose a cocktail bar (Cerise at The Forbury) as the venue for our cakey get together, this meant we had lots of fun sampling all of our boozy cakes along with some delicious cocktails. Apologies for the photos, the lighting in the cocktail bar was not good for getting a good shot and I didn't have time to get the camera out at home before heading out for the evening. We were sat at a shiny table with an overhead light and I've just realised you can see my reflection in this picture as I took the photo.

Once the theme had been announced I knew that I wanted to use blackberries to attempt to recreate a fabulous cocktail I had at a friend's hen party in London last year. Due to being a permanently skint student I hadn't planned on staying out for the cocktails after a meal that night, but my other friend persuaded me by offering to buy me a cocktail and after much deliberation over the menu (my first time in a proper cocktail bar and I was amazed by the number available), I chose the bramble cocktail. For those not in the know, this is delicious cocktail made with blackberry liqueur, gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup. You may remember that I froze a batch of stewed blackberries a little while ago as I didn't know what to do with the bounty I foraged from my local park. I defrosted the stewed blackberries to use for this cake, and to top my porridge for a few days afterwards (minus any gin of course).

The cake is flavoured with gin and lemon, filled with stewed blackberries and decorated with a gin, lemon and blackberry spiked icing. Not the booziest cake in the world, around half the amount of gin compared to my recent elderflower gin drizzle cake, but very delicious. The cake is lovely and moist and the icing is very zingy, I just wish blackberry season hadn't ended so I could bake this again.


For the cake:
225g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
zest 1 lemon finely grated
60ml gin

For the filling:
4-5 dessertspoonfuls of stewed blackberries with vanilla

For the icing:
300g icing sugar
35-40ml gin
juice of half a lemon
1.5 tsp juice from stewed blackberries
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line 2 x 8 inch sandwich tins.
  • Cram together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the lemon zest and the gin. Fold in the flour then divide the batter between the 2 tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen, golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave until cold.
  • When the cakes are cold, place one layer on a plate and then spread over the stewed blackberries and sandwich the second layer on top.
  • Sieve the icing sugar into a mixing bowl and add the lemon juice and 25ml of the gin to start with. Mix to a thick paste consistency (add the rest of the gin if it is too stiff) and then mix in the blackberry juice, don't worry if a few seeds end up in there, and you should get a lovely pinky purple colour. 
  • Spread the icing thickly over the cake and leave to set for about an hour before serving, 
I didn't choose a bramble cocktail at cake club, instead I went for something different and purposefully not sweet so I wouldn't completely overload on sugar. I went for a French blade which was made with bison grass vodka, absinthe and elderflower cordial and it was rather potent!

For more boozy cake inspiration have a look at these recipes:

My boozy cakes are sloe gin cupcakes, creme de cassis cake and elderflower gin drizzle cake.

A few more cocktail inspired cakes from the blogosphere:

Chocolate Baileys cupcakes with chocolate baileys buttercream icing - from Maison Cupcake
Cider punch drizzle loaf cakes - from Feeding Boys & Firefighter
Peach bellini cake - from United Cakedom which I enjoyed at cake club last week
Strawberry daiquiri traybake - from I'd Much Rather Bake Than...
Pina Colada Swiss roll - from Supergolden Bakes

As I want to share my love of gin in cakes around a bit I'm linking up with the following blog events. Cook Blog Share, Bake of the Week and Recipe of the Week.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Cinnamon Bun Week At Nordic Bakery

Who doesn't love a cinnamon bun? All of next week (29th Sept - 4th Oct) the Nordic Bakery in London are celebrating cinnamon bun day on 4th October with 5 brand new cinnamon bun flavours. They will be showcasing a different flavour each day starting with the raisins and lemon glaze bun. The other 4 flavours are blueberries, custard and almonds, apple jam and finally chocolate buttons.

I was invited along last night to taste the new bun flavours with a few other bloggers. This was my first time visiting the Nordic Bakery as I don't get chance to go into London very often and I loved being surrounded by the scent of cinnamon as soon as I arrived. As well as sampling each of the buns, I had the chance to try a couple of their naturally sugar free fruit cordials. I can highly recommend drinking the blueberry cordial with a blueberry cinnamon bun, 2 of my favourite flavours perfectly matched.

I loved all of the cinnamon buns (and can't wait for another chance to visit London to buy some more) but if I had to pick a favourite it would be the raisins and lemon glaze, packed full of raisins and cinnamon with a zesty lemon glaze, absolutely delicious! Which one would be your favourite?

I was invited to attend a tasting event at the Nordic Bakery, all opinions are my own and I was not paid for this post. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Coffee and walnut layer cake

After I made my first 5 layer cake to test out my new set of cake tins my Dad saw the photo and put in a request for a similar cake for his birthday this weekend. Being a lovely wonderful daughter (if you're reading this Dad I'm sure you'll agree) I duly obliged and baked him his favourite coffee and walnut cake. Sharing this cake with my parents was also a bit of a treat for me as I rarely get to bake with coffee as my boyfriend doesn't really like it.

I got a bit of a workout making this cake as my Mum doesn't own a stand mixer and is also without an electric hand whisk at the moment (it's still in France) so I had to wield a wooden spoon. As I own both a stand mixer and an electric whisk it's been a long time since I made a cake by hand and I had forgotten how much hard work it was! Fortunately I made sure the butter was very soft before I started.

When I posted photos of this cake on Instagram on Dad's birthday, I had lots of comments about how big the cake was. I'm not going to lie, you do get a very generous portion when cutting into this cake but when it's for a birthday you want a bit of greedy indulgence. Dad certainly didn't complain and wolfed his piece down quickly. 

Ingredients - serves 8 generously

For the cake:
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
75g finely chopped walnuts
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 rounded tsp instant barista style coffee dissolved in 1.5 tbsp hot water
1-2 tbsp milk

For the buttercream:
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g icing sugar
4 tsp very strong coffee made with 2 rounded tsp instant barista style coffee and 1.5 tbsp hot water
8 walnut halves for decoration
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and flour the cake tins, you need 5 x 6 inch cake time to make a layer cake or 2 x 8 inch rims to make a sandwich cake.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the coffee and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and chopped walnuts making sure all the flour is incorporated then divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean, turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  • While the cakes are cooling make the buttercream. Beat the butter until it is soft and fluffy then add the icing sugar and 2 tsp of coffee. Beat together until the icing sugar is incorporated then add the remaining coffee and beat until smooth. 
  • When the cakes are cold spread a layer of buttercream on the cake you want to use for the bottom layer and stack the next cake on top. Continue layering the buttercream and cakes and finish the top layer with a thick coating of the buttercream then decorate with the walnut halves. 
I impressed myself at how light the sponge was considering I had to do all the hard work with my arms instead of a mixer. Maybe I should ditch the mixer more often and give myself mini workouts when I bake, makes eating the cake more rewarding :)