Caramel Birthday Cake


The husband wanted a caramel cake for his birthday today. I have never made one of those before, and google didn’t really help as a lot of the recipes I found were too complicated for what we wanted or too sweet so I improvised by making a classic victoria sponge and sandwiching it with a caramel buttercream and adding a caramel drip glaze to the top. The husband is pescatarian so this recipe is vegetarian, not vegan. You could easily make a vegan version by making a vegan vanilla sponge cake, making your own caramel from a can of condensed coconut milk and some sugar and using vegan spread in your buttercream.

For 12 healthy slices you need


  • 4 eggs
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g vegan spread
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 tbsp soya milk
  • a little extra spread for greasing the cake tins

Icing and Glaze

  • 150g softened butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 150g caramel (I cheated and used a 397g can of ready made caramel. Save the remaining caramel for the filling and glaze)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  1. Make the cakes by mixing together all the cake ingredients until well combined. I use my kenwood mixer but you can do this by hand.
  2. Scrape into two lined and greased 8″ cake tins. Bake in a 170 degree oven for 20 mins or so until the cakes are light golden brown, risen and push back when you test them.
  3. Leave the cakes to cook on a rack whilst you make the icing.
  4. Mix together all the icing ingredients until light and fluffy. Again I use my kenwood for this and whip for at least 5-10 mins until the icing has doubled in size and is really light like marshmallow fluff.
  5. Once the cake has cooled, place one half on your cake stand and cover with 1/3 of the icing mixture. Add half of the leftover caramel.
  6. Place the remaining cake on top and then cover the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the icing. Beat the remaining caramel until it’s runny then pour over the iced cake and allow to drip down the sizes. Finish with embarrassing candles showing how old your beloved is mwahahahahahaha! This cake is best stored in the fridge. It will keep for 2-3 days and doesn’t taste overly sweet or sickly. Happy birthday Fuz!


Celebration Cake 2017

I’ve tweaked and tested and tried various versions of celebration fruit cakes over the last twenty years. Some of them have been a bit dry, some of them too boozy, others too dark and treacly. I needed an excellent cake for the winter solstice this year, and it was also a perfect opportunity to try out a new recipe ahead of our wedding next year (yes, even in a Christmas cake blog post I can get a mention of my forthcoming wedding in, give yourself a shiny*).

I tested this bake at work as the quantities below made more than my 8″ square tin could hold so I was able to bake a skinny 7″ round cake too. Everyone who tried it in the office declared it delicious and I don’t think they were just being polite.

You can veganise this cake by using dairy free spread in lieu of the butter and replacing the eggs with flax egg.

My cake based on Nigella’s Traditional Christmas Cake from her Nigella Christmas book.

* Watch this if you don’t know what on earth I am going on about…

For an 8″ square cake which will yield 16-24 slices depending on greed you need:

  • 1kg of mixed dried fruit: currants, raisins and sultanas. I used up what was in my larder but it worked out at about 350g of each type of dried fruit
  • 200g mixed peel
  • 250g glace cherries
  • 300ml each of brandy and dark rum
  • 300g butter or vegan spread
  • 180g light brown muscovado sugar
  • grated zest of two lemons and two oranges
  • 4 large eggs or the equivalent in flax egg
  • 2 tbsps treacle
  • 450g plain flour (add a little baking powder if using flax egg)
  • 1/2 freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  1. Start by placing the dried fruit, peel and cherries in a LARGE bowl and pour over the booze. Mix thoroughly then cover with clingfilm and leave in a cool place (not the fridge) for 2 weeks. Stir every couple of days to rotate the fruit and ensure even soaking.
  2. Make the cake by creaming the butter/spread with the sugar. Then add the eggs/egg replacement and flour in alternate spoonfuls to prevent curdling. Add the grated zest, treacle and spices. Mix well.
  3. Add the soaked fruit. Leave any remaining liquid in the bottom of the soaking bowl until you know if you need it. Sometimes the batter is runny enough without it, sometimes you need to add some of the liquid to let it down a bit. This stage is difficult as the batter is stiff and the bowl will be very full. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands in to ensure even fruit distribution if necessary.
  4. Scrape the mix into a lined 8″ square tin. Fill to 1cm from the top as the cake won’t rise too much whilst baking. Smooth the surface and make a little dip in the middle to compensate for any rise.
  5. Cover the tin with a square of foil with a hole in the middle to prevent the top of the cake from catching and the fruit burning during the cooking.
  6. Bake the cake in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees (130 if fan) for 2 hours 45 mins to 3 hours 15 mins. Take the foil lid off about 45 mins before the end of the baking time to allow the top to brown evenly.
  7. Once cooked LEAVE TO COOL IN THE TIN!!! I learnt this the hard way this year when I turned it out too quickly thinking that would help it not sweat and scarily huge cracks appeared on the bottom. It was rescued by putting quickly back into the tin!
  8. Once cooled, wrap well and store or marzipan and ice. There’s no need to feed this cake as all the booze is locked inside the soaked fruit. It’s safe to give to children however as the booze cooks off as the cake bakes. If you want you can replace the booze with orange juice for a fresher tasting cake.

Spiced Apple Cake

apple cake

This recipe is based on a Mary Berry one and is so quick and simple to make. Serve warm with custard as a pudding or just scoff au natural, it really doesn’t matter. I didn’t have almond essence or flaked almonds as per the original recipe so used nutmeg and ground cinnamon instead, and used up some dying dessert apples instead of using cooking ones. This recipe works just as well with pears too, and you can add some cocoa to make a chocolate version. The possibilities are endless!

For 8-10 pieces of cake you need:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 150g butter, melted
  • 250g apples, peeled and cut into wedges
  1. Line a baking tin – I’ve used a 23cm springform tin and a 20cm x 20cm brownie tin with equal success.
  2. Make the cake batter by placing everything apart from the apples into a bowl and mixing thoroughly.
  3. Put half the cake batter in the bottom of the tin. Add all the apples into the centre in a mound. Scrape over the remaining mixture – don’t worry that it doesn’t reach the edges of the tin, it will as it bakes.
  4. Bake in a 160 degree oven for about an 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours until the cake is golden brown, risen, shrinking away from the edges and cooked through.

Apple Crumble Cake

There’s no photo for this as [1] it was New Years Eve and I was drinking so forgot and [2] it all went so quickly I didn’t get a chance! Suffice to say it was a delicious addition to the shared table of food and would be equally yummy cold or warm with custard or ice cream.

For 8-10 slices you need
Crumble topping
115g self-raising flour
1 tsp each freshly ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves and ground mace
85g butter
85g caster sugar.

450g cooking apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
175g self-raising flour,
1 tsp baking powder,
1 tsp each freshly ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves and ground mace
115g vitalite,
115g caster sugar
2 eggs

Rub the butter into the flour and then add the spices and sugar and set to one side for the crumble topping.

Beat the vitalite with the sugar and gradually add the eggs and flour, baking powder and spices.

Pour the cake batter into a lined tin and then top with the apple slices. Sprinkle over the crumble and then bake at 175 degrees for 40-50 mins until risen, golden brown and the cake is thoroughly cooked. Leave to cool in the tin then cut into slices and scoff.

Salted Caramel Shortbread Slice aka Millionaire’s Shortbread

This is to die for. Literally. Scroll down the list of ingredients and you’ll see why. But don’t let that put you off. In the immortal words of Masterchef’s Greg Wallace it’s got the perfect buttery, biscuity base topped with oozing salted caramel and then a thick layer of slightly bitter chocolate. An orgasm on a plate if you will. What’s not to like… Adapted from Nigella’s Roxanne’s Millionaires Shortbread in Domestic Goddess.

For 24 pieces you need
225g plain flour
75g fairtrade caster sugar
375g unsalted butter
397g can sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons golden syrup
250g fairtrade plain chocolate
2 tsp salt, preferably something flaky like Maldon

Begin by making the shortbread. Place the flour, sugar and 175g of butter in a food processor and blitz till it turns into sandy rubble. If you don’t have a food processor you can do this by hand by rubbing the fat into the flour and sugar.

Tip the sandy mixture into a lined 23x23cm tin and press down. Bake in a 160 degree oven for 35-40 mins. You want a crisp, golden brown bottom so take care not to have the oven too hot or it will brown before it cooks through.

Meanwhile make the salted caramel by placing the remaining 200g butter into a pan with the condensed milk and golden syrup. I learnt previously when I made this that using a cheap pan separates the butter fat out and splits the caramel. This is NOT a good thing. I managed to resolve it by beating the caramel in the pan submerged in a washing up bowl of cold water but it’s tricky so I recommend using a pan with a deep a base as possible (a Le Creuset is brilliant but admittedly perhaps too middle class for this…). Anyways. Melt the butter into the condensed milk and syrup and then bring to the boil stirring constantly until it’s thickened and a light golden brown in colour. This will take about 20-25 minutes and can’t be rushed. To ensure you don’t let it catch you need to take it slow and steady, stirring all the time. Beat in 1 tsp of the salt and leave to cool.

The shortbread should be baked by now, and if it is, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15-20 mins before pouring the likewise cooled caramel over the top. Tilt the tin to coat the base properly then sprinkle over the remaining 1 tsp of salt. Leave to cool while you melt the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie/bowl over a pan of water. I like to use 75% plain and 25% milk chocolate on mine, but do as you wish. Once the chocolate has melted, pour over the caramel, again ensuring it’s covered properly and leave until fully set. This means overnight unless you cheat like me and put it in the fridge.

Cut into squares and scoff. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Love Cake (Vanilla and Raspberry Heart Shaped Cake)

We only exchange cards in our household to mark commercialisation of love day, but we’d also run out of cake today so I decided to bake something yummy to welcome my man home after a busy week working away on t’other side of the Pennines… This went down a treat. The soft, sharp raspberries contrasted nicely with the sweeter vanilla scented cake. The boy also appreciated licking out the cake mix bowl after breakfast, win!

For a heart shaped cake that serves 8-10 and also makes 7 cupcakes you need:
For the cake
4 eggs
8oz self raising flour
8oz vitalite
8oz caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
A handful of frozen raspberries

For the icing/topping
1 pack red fondant icing
6oz icing sugar
3oz vitalite
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Seedless raspberry jam

Begin by mixing the vitalite and sugar in a food mixer for 10 mins until light and fluffy.

Slow the speed of the mixer and add the eggs one at a time, alternating with a spoonful of the flour. Once all the eggs are added, incorporate the rest of the flour and the vanilla extract.

Pour into a greased heart shaped tin until it’s 2/3 filled. Poke about 8-10 raspberries into the batter, evenly spacing them out.

Meanwhile put the rest of the batter into cupcake cases in a tin and add one raspberry to each in the middle.

Bake in a 180 degree oven till done – the cupcakes will take 12-15 mins and the heart cake about 20-25.

Leave to cool and make the icing. Mix the vitalite slowly in with the icing sugar and vanilla paste until throughly mixed. Increase the speed and mix on high for about 10 mins. This gives a lovely light texture to the icing once it’s set. Roll out the fondant and cut/stamp into whatever shapes you want.

Once the cakes are cooled, pipe a swirl of icing onto the top of each cup cake and top with a heart stamped out of the red fondant. For the heart cake, slice in half and fill with jam and some of the buttercream. Use the red of the buttercream to decorate the top of the cake as you wish. Be as slushy or restrained as you like 😉 Happy Valentines 🙂

Celebration Chocolate Cake

This cake has done the rounds on an internet forum I am a member of, and I book marked it as one to make to welcome Lex home after he’d spent the summer with his dad this year. It looks impressive but is actually a doddle to make and decorate, and any kid (or adult for that matter!!) that sees it can’t resist breaking out into a huge grin. You can put whatever you want round the sides and on the top. I was under strict orders from the boy with what I included but let your imagination run wild!

Our cake is a chocolate orange marble cake with chocolate orange buttercream icing and milk and orange chocolate kitkats. For other flavours, amend the recipes below to suit your tastes 🙂

For 8-12 slices you need
Orange cake batter
3 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
6oz self raising flour
6oz caster sugar
6oz vitalite

Chocolate orange cake batter
3 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
4oz self raising flour
2oz cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
6oz caster sugar
6oz vitalite

Chocolate Orange Buttercream Icing
225g vitalite
475g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
zest of one orange

To Decorate
1 pack of 8 x 2 finger orange kitkats
1 pack of 8 x 2 finger milk chocolate kitkats
1 packet peanut M&Ms
1 packet yorkie chocolate drops
Jelly stars
Edible silver stars

You will also need
A ribbon to decorate
2 x 8 inch round cake tins, lined and greased
Cake stand or plate

Begin by making the cake batters. In separate bowls cream together the vitalite and sugar, beating for 10 mins until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, alternating with the flour or flour and cocoa mixture. Finally add the zest and juice and thoroughly incorporate.

Dollop spoonfuls of each mixture across both tins, and once all the batter is in, swirl to mix lightly for the marbled effect.

Bake at 170 degrees for about 25-30 mins until the cakes are well risen, starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin and fully cooked. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a cake rack to finish cooling completely.

Beat the icing ingredients together for 10 mins until light and fluffy. Use to sandwich the cakes together and then cover the outside of both cakes with a good layer of icing. Once you have done this, start to stick your kitkats (or chocolate finger biscuits or whatever else you have chosen!) to the outside.

Then add your decoration of choice. Some people like to just cover with maltesers or other sweets, but my cakes were very deep, and there wasn’t a lot of overspill room above the kitkats so I used giant chocolate buttons and then filled the inside with other sweets.

Finally, tie the ribbon around the outside of the cake (this helps to ensure the kitkats don’t fall off as well as giving an extra wow factor ;-)) and scoff. I recommend palming the children off on to grandparents once the sugar rush hits mwahahahaha!

Cadbury’s Creme Egg Brownies

A brownie adorned with a cadbury’s creme egg showed up in my newsfeed on Facebook earlier in the week, so I decided to treat us to some for Easter. I’ve used mini creme eggs as the large ones would have made them too sickly (imho!). The brownie recipe I have used is my tried and tested adaptation of the Hummingbird Bakery’s plain chocolate brownie which is chewy and moist and delicious. Enjoy!

For 12 portions you need
200g good quality plain chocolate
125g butter
150g plain flour
325g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

6 mini cadbury’s creme eggs

Melt the chocolate and butter. Once melted and cooled slightly, mix in the other ingredients. Pour the batter into a lined swiss roll tin and bake at 160 degrees for about 15 mins. 

Carefully cut the eggs in half, but don’t worry too much if they break a bit. After 15 mins, take the brownies out of the oven and push the halves of eggs into the semi cooked batter. Place them back in the oven for a further 15 mins to finish cooking. 

Leave to cool for 10 min before removing from the baking tin and slicing into generous squares. Happy Ishtar!

Nigella’s Malteser Cake

I’ve never made this cake before, despite lots of people raving about it. So when Fuz turned 40 a few weeks ago I dug out Feast and made it for him and his family. I can’t say I liked it that much, the cake is quite chewy and chocolate cake is my least favourite type of cake, but I did like the malteser flavoured icing and everyone else loved it… It’s such a simple cake to make, and the decoration takes no time at all so you can pass it off as something you have slaved over when in reality it’s taken you five minutes. Result!

For a cake that serves 8-10 you need

150g soft brown sugar
100g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175ml milk
15g butter
2 tablespoons Horlicks powder
175g plain flour
25g cocoa, sieved
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the icing and decoration
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa
45g Horlicks
125g vegan spread
3 tbsp raspberry jam
2 x 37g packets Maltesers

Beat the sugars and eggs together in a free standing mixer for 10 mins until light and fluffy. Meanwhile heat the milk, butter and horlicks in a pan until just below boiling. Carefully pour this mixture into the eggs and sugar and mix thoroughly. Add everything else and then pour into two lined cake tins.

Bake in a moderate (170 degree) oven until risen and springy (about 20-30 mins). Take care not to over bake or the cake will be too chewy.

Leave to cook on a wire rack and make the icing.

In a free standing mixer, beat together everything apart from the jam and maltesters. Once the cake is cooled, spread 1/3 of the icing on one cake and top with the jam. Sandwich the second cake on top and then decorate with the remaining icing and maltesers. For a special cake for my son I used marshmallows and a crumbled crunchie bar on top as he prefers those to maltesters.

Tiger Striped Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake

Lex requested marble cake for his lunch box last week and I’d been meaning to try out a tiger cake following the recent craze for them created by Lorraine Pascale. So I used her method for creating the stripes in my own normal victoria sponge cake base. It worked really well but I have to say was a right faff and took forever to splodge into the tin. The things mums do to make their children happy eh 😉

For one cake that serves 8-10 people you need
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract, added to the egg jug for easier mixing
8oz self raising flour
8oz caster sugar
8oz vegan spread (e.g. vitalite)
1-2 tbsp soya milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water

Make the cake base the usual way: place the spread and sugar into a free standing mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on high for 10 mins until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and flour on slow speed.

Once the batter is made, divide into two bowls. Add the cocoa powder liquid to one bowl and mix thoroughly. Add enough milk to the vanilla bowl to make the batter the same consistency as the chocolate batter.

In a greased 20cm cake tin, place alternating spoonfuls of the batters into the middle. Start with vanilla, then place a spoonful of the chocolate batter directly on top of the splodge of vanilla batter. Keep repeating and the batter will start to spread out into the tin. It is this process which gives the cake its stripes. It will take 10 mins or so to carefully and patiently use up all the mix. It is vital the batters are the same consistency or one will spread too much and the other will be too thick.

Once all the batter is in the tin (and congratulations if you did it properly and didn’t give up at the end like me and lob spoonfuls anywhere in the tin towards the end 😉 bake in a moderate (160 degree) oven for 30-45 mins until the cake is risen and cooked. Leave to cool and then slice and marvel at the petty pwatterns on the inside of the cake.