Date and Apple Crumble Cake

Hello hello.

I have been feeling as though a chocolate/nutella/peanut butter/brownie/cookie cleanse is in order.

I know, don't shun me! You will forgive me once you have tried out this cake.

Ok so there was me 7pm on a Friday night up to my ears in the most foul smelling, off milk you could ever imagine (yay for honours!) when my good friend Jelley came to visit me in the lab. We decided that since we were both being incredibly antisocial and lame for a Friday night in the prime of our lives that we should probably compensate with ice cream and baking of some sort.

So after stocking up on treats at the shop in the link (we needed snacks to buy snacks) we stopped off at Kmart first to see what new wares I could purchase for $2. After leaving with a new blue spatula, some egg rings (for making crumpets in) and another packet (or two) of M&Ms (hey we needed more snacks for the trip to New World) we set off towards my happy place (aka the supermarket).

There we purchased all the necessary ingredients for an ice cream binge and an almond and apple cake.

I had spied a recipe of Donal Skehan's recipes a month or so ago for a yummy looking cake. However I regret to inform you that it did not work out so well. I feel as though my eggs were a tad on the old side so a lovely smooth batter did not form. It was still delicious. Especially for breakfast the next day when heated in the microwave.

I had not given up on the mighty apple cake though! I had seen a delicious looking cake in Julie Le Clerc's Favourite Cakes book. It had a crumble topping and looked delicious and moist.

Buuut I made some adjustments.

A lot of adjustments now that I think about it.

I added apple slices rather than grated apple.
I added chopped dates rather than sultanas.
I used my Mum's crumble topping rather than the one suggested.
I added like a tonne more spices.
Used a totally different method
Aaand I made it into a rather tall 20cm round tin rather than the large, flat rectangular number as suggested.

So basically it is a totally different cake. Sort of.

I would definitely say use a larger spring form cake tin if you have one. This cake took a good hour and a bit to bake (I kinda lost track of time). This cake was rather tall and so the centre took quite a while to bake at I feel the detriment of the outer portion of cake. If you do end up over cooking your cake, pop a piece in the microwave and pour over some custard or a dollop of cream and all will be rectified!

I actually wish I had custard for this. That would have been amazing.

So let me try and remember what I threw into this cake :)

Apple and Date Crumble Cake
adapted from Julie Le Clerc's Apple Crumble Cake in her book Favourite Cakes

125g butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup rolled oats
 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

for the crumble topping (you may need to increase the amount of topping if you use a larger tin)
50g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds, slivered or flaked, up to you
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 on bake.

Line the base of your 20 to 25cm spring form tin (or 17x27 cm brownie tin) with baking paper. Grease the sides if you are using a round tin.

Cover the dates in hot water and leave to soften.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Once light and fluffy add the eggs in one at a time and beat until voluminous and fluffy.

Add in your spices and vanilla. Then gently mix in your sifted flour and baking powder as well as the oats and dates (which have been drained of excess water).

As you mix, slowly add in the milk until a more moist and slightly sloppy batter is formed.

Stir in the apple slices.

Spoon the mixture into the cake in and smooth flat.

Rub together the crumble ingredients with your fingers then sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake in the oven until cooked. Haha when this is I do not know. I would say around an hour but I would definitely start testing it at 10 minute intervals (by inserting a skewer - if it comes out clean it is done) to see if it is done after 40 minutes. If you use a bigger tin it will take less time of course. If the crumble starts getting too brown place a sheet of tin foil over the top and return to the oven.

Serve warm with a good dolloping of whipped cream, ice cream or custard! (or all three . . .)


Lemon Blueberry Sour Cream Cake

Also known as the best summer fruit based cake known to mankind.

Today was one of those crazy baking days where you just seem to make one thing after the other.

Jack and his friend Will wanted banana cake. So I made banana cake.

Then my friend Ashleigh came around with a box full of blueberries. So we made this blueberry cake.

Then I felt like sending Jamal something in Dunedin. So I baked a brownie.

Then before you knew it I was getting everything out to start cooking dinner.

Anyway Back to the blueberry cake.

Ashleigh took a trip to the Coromandel and on her way stopped off in Ngatea to pick some blueberries. I have decided that another trip to Ngatea needs to be made as they were the best blueberries I had ever tasted and better still they were only $9 a kg. Brill!

I saw a recipe in my Julie Le Clerc Favourite Cakes book for a frosted lemon blueberry slab cake. I'm not a fan of slab cakes, they never look as pretty as a nice circle, so we decided to use a 23cm circular tin instead. You don't want too small a tin as the blueberries sink which would leave you with a massive layer of plain cake over the top of the blueberries.

I feel like the blueberries could also be substituted for raspberries if you happened to have those in the fridge. What I think makes this cake great is the lemony tang of the lemon is softened with the delicate flavour of the blueberries.

The sour cream also makes it delicious and moist. The sourness counteracts all the sugar making it less sickly sweet.

Then you add delicious, whipped and luscious lemony icing to the top.

Just make this cake ok. It is so great. I know I say that about a lot of cakes but this is different. It is Summery. It isn't chocolatey and heavy but light, airy and fruity. And since fruit is good for us, especially blueberries, it is basically calorie free.

But as we all know, calories don't even count between December and February.

True story.

Did I mention this was super easy to make?

Ok I'll stop blabbing now and get straight to the important bit.

Lemon Blueberry Sour Cream Cake
Adapted from Julie Le Clerc's Favourite Cakes
Makes a 23cm diameter cake

125g butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or thawed frozen ones)

Lemon icing:
30g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat until fluffy and voluminous.

Mix in sour cream and lemon zest.

Sieve in the flour and gently fold in until just combined.

Add the blueberries and delicately mix in.

Transfer into a lined cake tin (preferably one with a removable base) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top turns golden and a skewer comes out clean. I found that the top of the cake browned quickly so to stop over browning I placed a piece of tin foil over the top.

Leave to cool for half an hour before removing from the tin and transferring to a cake rack. Leave to cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, beat all the icing ingredients together until smooth and fluffy. You may need more icing sugar or lemon juice depending on the resultant consistency.

Garnish with strips of lemon zest if you wish.

Enjoy with a nice glass of iced tea (we did!)

Black Doris Plum Syrup Cake

Sometimes baking really does make you feel better.

Today I was in one of those womanly funks that just wouldn't go away. I tried supermarket shopping, flicking through my cookbooks and I even bought a new tart tin but nothing would rid me of this bluesy feeling. 

I used this mood as an excuse to bake a cake without my mother raging at me for a) making us all fat and b) costing her the earth in ingredients. 

Recommended to me today by a family friend (as we both sat there and got our hair dids) was Julie Le Clerc's black Doris plum syrup cake from her book Favourite Cakes. It sure did look marvellous in its juicy and sticky wonder spread across the page. What attracted me most to this cake was the beautiful fluted bundt pan that it was cooked in making the most amazing pattern on the outer surface of the cooked cake. I traipsed through Mum's baking pan drawer and found one that almost equated the beauty of Julie's pan. Unfortunately our pan was a few centimetres too big for the recipe stated. I also was unable to find a 410g tin of black Doris plums, only a 820g tin. Alas!

Wanna know what I did?

I made a bigger cake.

I know they say that we shouldn't play around and that we should always use the tins specified blah blah blah. But you know what? I don't happen to have every single tin in every single size, I wish I did and I sure am close but not close enough. 

I decided to increase the recipe by a quarter. The only exception to this rule was the tin of plums, I went right ahead and used the whole 820g tin. There were just enough to do two rings of them in this cake. I also used all of the tin's juice for the syrup; you can never have too much syrup. Ok you can. Never mind. 

Below i'll give you the exact proportions that I used for my 25cm diameter bunt pan. It filled the pan almost to the top so if you do infact have a smaller pan, reduce the ingredients by a fifth and you should be sweet.

Black Doris Plum Syrup Cake
Adapted from Julie Le Clerc's Favourite Cakes 
Makes one large bundt cake (25cm)

1x 820g tin black Doris plums in syrup
230g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups plain, unsweetened yoghurt
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons baking soda

Plum Syrup:
left over juice from plum tin
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup white sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake.

Drain the plums, reserve and strain the juice. Cut plums in half and remove the stones from each one. 

Grease your bundt pan and dust it with flour. 

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated and the final volume has almost doubled. 

Stir in the yoghurt.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until homogenous. Make sure you use a scraper to get down at the mixture at the bottom of the bowl. 

Spoon one third of the mixture into the base of the bundt tin. dot about six or seven plum halves over the top of the mixture. Spoon the next third of the mixture over the top of the plums. Place the next lot of plums over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter over the last lot of plums. Use a spoon to flatten the mixture in the tin.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer or butter knife comes out clean. 

Leave the cake to cool for half an hour before turning out onto a cake rack. To remove from the tin, run a knife around the cakes edges, and sort of shake the pan to loosen it. Even gently bang it against the bench.

Leave to cool completely before pouring over the syrup. Remember the rule: Cold cake and hot syrup or hot cake and cold syrup.

While you are waiting for the cake to fully cool make the syrup by placing all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmering until the syrup becomes thick and well, syrupy. This could take up to 10 minutes of strong simmering. 

In this hot weather you are going to want to keep this cake in the fridge.

Serve with a nice dollop of plain yoghurt (we used mascarpone but I think yoghurt would be much better) and enjoy!

Delicious Delicious Date and Coconut Cake

I don't make enough cakes. It's always cupcakes, slices, biscuits but no decent discs of great cake.

I am aiming to change that.

The only problem with cakes is that you kind of need a reason to bake a cake and a significant number of people so that you don't eat the whole thing by yourself.

I found out the other day that I got into the honours program for my food innovation degree. I thought that was a good excuse as any to bake a cake. I had dreams of the whole family sitting around the table to eat cake.

Alas that is not the life of the modern day working family.

I had also made chicken and sundried tomato fettucine for dinner to be ready at 6ish. My brother and I waited and waited but the parentals did not turn up. We gave up waiting and had our portions just us. Then finally at 7ish Dad walked in. Then nearing 7.30 Mum walked in. There goes the family dinner.

Oh and then Dad complained that we had eaten all the dinner. No Dad, that is what half of the chicken mixture looks like. Exactly half. Aah then their were complaints that their fettucine wasn't cooked. We thought we were doing them a favour, afterall who likes half cold stodgy pasta?

Then I watched in agony as Dad attempted to boil water and cook the fettucine, asking every thirty seconds whether it was cooked or not.

They say girls marry their fathers.

I will certainly not be marrying a man who does not know when his pasta is al dente.

Right, where was I? Aaah Cake.

Right so the time that everyone had come home, Jack's and my stomach had empties sufficiently to fit in some delicious cake. Unfortunately Mum and Dad at this exact time were beached like whales on the couch full of creamy pasta and nursing their food babies. They did not feel like cake.

Epic failure.

So I ate cake by myself. It was just as delicious as if I was eating it with company. Also no one could judge me whilst I ate a second piece. Mmmm so moist was this cake.

Oh yes, what type of cake did I make?

I recently purchased Julie Le Clerc's book; Favourite Cakes. It is full of wonderful looking cakes, from chocolate cakes to syrup cakes to cheesecakes to celebration cakes. The best part is that it only cost me $20. Win!

I love dates, they are so great. So anything with dates in it I naturally love also. I also love that delicious caramelly coconut topping that sometimes makes an appearance on top of slices or cakes.

This magical cake had both dates and the magical coconut topping! What a match made in heaven!

Mum used to make a cake similar to this one except it also had apple in it. She used to make them before she got all boring and worky and Mum and Dad actually had friends come over for lunches and the like. Seriously it was a delicious cake, who wouldn't have friends willing to come over at every possible moment if you can make a cake like that?

When I started making this cake I thought the recipe was a bit odd. The cake batter only called for 50g of butter, and you were supposed to cream this with a great deal more sugar. I tried to cream the two but it just wasn't working for me. I decided to add 20 more grams of butter. That seemed to do the trick.

So once all the egg, butter and sugar was fluffed together, you then had to ruin this beautiful aerated emulsion by pouring in all the dates and their cup of hot soaking water turning the fluff into a sloopy (yes sloopy) mess. Arrg??? so much confusion.

Anyway the end result was absolutely devine! Well worth making. It is very rich so I don't suggest you have it after a heavy meal such as our cream laden fettucine. The topping is supposed to have orange blossom water but unfortunately I felt too poor to go and buy some. If you do have some, add a tablespoon or so into the topping and let me know how it turns out! I also am having a bit of a thing with making things nice and spicy. The recipe said to add just cardamom but I went ahead and added some nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. I think it is just the time of year when everything is nice and spicy, why not let this cake join in on all of the fun?

Also, just to note that I used a 22cm tin rather than the 20cm. This means my cake was a little flatter than it was supposed to be. It just meant a greater topping to cake ratio haha.

Arabian Date Cake
Adapted from Julie Le Clerc's Favourite Cakes
Makes a 20cm cake.

170g pitted dried dates, chopped
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
70g butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly baked soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

50g butter
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of long threaded coconut.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake and prepare a 20cm spring form tin with baking paper.

Place the dates, water and baking soda in a sauce pan and bring to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat until nice and volumous.

Stir in the cooled date mixture forming a sloppy and sloopy mixture.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg and stir gently to incorporate into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer, when inserted, comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven whilst you prepare the topping.

In a small sauce pan, melted together the cream, butter and sugar. Heat until a medium dark to golden colour is formed. Stir in the coconut.

Spoon this mixture over the top of the cake evenly and then return the cake to the oven for another 15 minutes so that the topping turns a wonderful golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin before serving.

Serve with a nice big dollop of whipped cream. That would be great.