Baby Lemon Bundt Cakes

I found the best ever score at Pak n Save yesterday. Mini bundt tins with a gorgeous pattern to them and at only $7.99 for a pack of three. I bought six. Best purchase ever. I don't know how I am going to get all my new tins and books back down to Dunedin. It is gonna be a heavy ride. Who needs shoes and a hair drier when you have cake tins and cookbooks? I swear half of my luggage allowance is dedicated to bakeware.

Anyway, my good friend Cara bought me Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess for Christmas. It was an essential book and I just had to have it! What I love about this book is the way she writes. It isn't a sterile cookbook. She puts the time and effort into explaining things and reassuring you that the products of your adventures in the kitchen don't always turn out perfect and that's ok. She even points out the flaws in the pictures features, like chunks of cake missing as they stuck to the tin. The introduction is highly amusing and well worth the read. It is probably the best written cookbook I have come across. Each recipe has its own well thought out blurb recalling where the recipe came from, misadventures she may have had when making it as well as a few useful tips.

You should get it.

I had seen the mini bundt tins a few weeks ago but I withheld the purchasing of them, convincing myself that I didn't need them. Whilst flicking through Nigella I found a recipe where she used the mini tins. I was sold! So off to Pak n Save I dashed and immediately purchased the tins!

It wasn't until I was scooping the batter into the tins this morning that I realised that one of the tins was missing and had been left behind on the shelf. Ooops! So while I only made five mini cakes today I recommend making six as they kind of overflowed a bit and were a bit larger than I had hoped. Luckily I went back this afternoon and explained what had happened and the lost tin was reunited with its brothers in my kitchen drawer.

I actually made these little cakes for my brother to take two of them on a romantic sunset picnic with his thing/girlfriend (I have no idea of their official status!) this evening. I am also making Jack some mini bacon and egg pies to also take.

He owes me one.

Anyway I went to go and weigh out the ingredients when I discovered that our electric kitchen scales were deciding to have another crazy day and refused to weigh anything properly (they don't sit on a final value). I tried banging them against the bench, taking out the batteries but alas! I was just going to wait this one out. They will sort themselves out eventually. It always happens when I plan on getting up early to bake something.

I ended up having to google the weight to cup conversion for all the ingredients. Luckily it was only the flour and sugar that needed converting (the butter was from a new pack for I could estimate using the guidelines).

I'll give you both values below just in case you don't have decent kitchen scales (which you should have!!).

This recipe is so easy to make. You don't need a beater, just a spoon. There is no creaming of the butter and sugar involved, just mixing.

So great.

If you don't have mini bundt tins you could try mini loaf tins and I guess muffin tins as a last resort. Try serving the muffin versions with the icing on the bottom side of the cake (as in turn the muffins upside down to serve). It makes them slightly more interesting to look at.

I also sprinkled a bit of sugar over the top of the batter just before they went in. This gave them a lovely crunchy base which I think is great.

Baby Lemon Bundts
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess
Makes six little cakes

125ml (1/2 cup) plain unsweetened yoghurt
75g butter, melted
2 large eggs
zest of one lemon
150g (1 1/4 cups) Plain flour
125g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

For the icing:
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sieved
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon of butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease and flour the baby bundt tins.

Sieve together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.

In a separate jug or bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs and yoghurt.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently mix until no more flour clumps can be seen. Try not to overmix as this will result in a dense and chewy cake.

Fill the tins until just below the top of the centre tube (the inverse of the bundt hole), sprinkle over a little white sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean or and cakes bounce back when touched.

Leave to cool a little before removing the cakes form their tins. Soft, freshly baked cake is delicate and if the cakes are too hot when they are removed they can fall apart. Also don't leave them to fully cool in the tins as this can result in them sticking to the tins.

leave to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

To make the icing, use as much of the lemon juice as necessary to make a thick but still drippable mixture. If it is too runny the icing will just run off the cake and only the bench creating a very sticky mess to wipe up later.

Decorate the cakes with a few long strands of lemon zest if you wish (I would have done this but my lemons were ugly and speckled).

Nigella says you can vary this recipe by using limes or oranges instead of the lemons. I think I might have to give them a go. This would also work really well as a syrup cake recipe. Instead of making the icing, make up a lemon syrup with say half a cup of caster sugar, the juice of a lemon and a splash of water. Simmer in a saucepan until a syrupy consistency is reached then pour the hot syrup over the cold cakes.


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!