Clementine cake

Perfect for an afternoon tea as it’s gorgeous on its own, or it can be served as a dessert with a good quality vanilla ice cream or custard.


  • Use any small sweet, easy peeler citrus such as clementines, satsumas or mandarins
  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same
  • If you’re finding it tricky to zest the clementines (the smoother skin of smaller citrus can be difficult) replace with the zest of one large orange


  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs


  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 205g caster sugar
  • 205ml mild olive oil, such as Filippo Berio Classico
  • 205g Tipo 00 flour or plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder or extract
  • 40g ground almonds
  • Grated zest of four clementines
  • 2 tablespoons of clementine juice

Also… for the topping

  • Icing sugar
  • Extra clementines, peeled for decoration
  • Juice of two extra clementines


  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined and then mix in the olive oil plus the zest and juice
  7. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  8. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  9. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake
  10. Leave to cool in the tin
  11. Decorate with icing sugar mixed with the extra clementine juice and poured over
  12. Once the icing is set (or nearly set) decorate with the peeled mandarins

Strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil

Strawberry yorgurt cake with olive oil - Ink Sugar Spice recipe

Perfect for an afternoon tea or appropriate for Valentines, this cake is light, moist and full of strawberry flavour.


  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same


  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs


  • Large eggs, separated – 4
  • Caster sugar – 210g
  • Olive oil (mild) – 210ml/g
  • Tipo 00 flour or plain flour – 210g
  • baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Ground almonds – 40g
  • Strawberry yogurt (a thick kind such as Greek yogurt) – 80g
  • Strawberries – 80g (about)


  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined
  7. Chop up the strawberries and measure out the yogurt
  8. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  9. Fold in the olive oil
  10. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  11. Using a teaspoon, dot the yogurt all over the cake – try to keep the blobs of yogurt fairly small
  12. Place the strawberries over the yogurt
  13. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake (though be careful to notice that you’ve not spiked the yogurt and think the cake is still underdone
  14. Gorgeous on its own, or serve it as a very special dessert, say for a Valentine’s or birthday celebration, with a good quality vanilla ice cream. Alternatively, serve with crushed strawberries that have been mixed into a tub of crème frâiche (plus a dessertspoon of icing sugar)
strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil - all sliced

Blueberry and mascarpone loaf cake

IMG_0447While I was trying to get my gnashers round a giant, but highly delicious, doorstop sandwich filled with brie, honey, walnuts and figs and he a salt beef panini in a deli caff this summer my husband had already mentally moved on to desserts and was eyeing up the sweet treats. There sat a gorgeous looking mascarpone and blueberry loaf cake.

We didn’t succumb at the time (how disciplined was that? And how unlike me…!). However, I just had to try to recreate a similar cake it as it sounded like a fabulous combination of flavours. I don’t know what the original tasted like, nor could I find out the recipe from the staff at the time, but what I’ve come up with is a lovely cake indeed.

I’ve ‘pimped’ it up considerably from the benign but delicious title, placing honey and Cointreau in it too.

A little note: I’m currently off work nursing a recovering left hand, having had a minor op. As such, I can barely dress myself, let alone bake and cook. I knew I would be like this for a while as I had the same operation on my right hand last year. So, I stockpiled some recipes, photos and posts this summer in anticipation of being out of order for a few weeks and this recipe was actually prepared and written in mid September, just before I was operated on and has been scheduled for posting. I should be back to full capability (and back to the day job too!) before the end of October (2018).



  • It’s moist, spongy and bursting with oozy blueberries
  • The batter is very thick for this cake – rather more like a Madeira or pound cake than a typical sponge
  • it will crack slight on top – I happen to think it looks really nice this way


  • Bowl
  • Electric whisk or stand mixer (as the batter is thick it’d be rather heavy going with a balloon whisk)
  • Spatula (a silicone one is best)
  • Loaf tin (roughly 19cm x 10 cm)
  • Baking parchment or greaseproof paper


  • Unsalted butter (room temperature) – 80g
  • Soft brown caster sugar – 75g (plus an extra tablespoonful for scattering)
  • Runny honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Large eggs, whole – 2
  • Plain flour (I used 00 Italian flour, but any decent plain will do) – 230g
  • Mascarpone – 210g
  • Cointreau or triple sec (or any orange liqueur) – 25ml
  • Milk – 25ml
  • Lime juice – juice of half a lime
  • Baking powder – 2 tablespoons
  • Blueberries – a small punnet (about 130g)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan / 200°C conventional
  2. Grease then line your loaf tin
  3. Cream the butter, caster sugar and honey together in a bowl until fluffed up a little and turned paler in colour
  4. Add the eggs, flour, mascarpone, Cointreau, milk, baking powder and lime juice and whisk in
  5. Gently mix in the fruit (it doesn’t matter if you burst a few, this gives a nice contrast in the cake)
  6. Fill the prepared tin with the mixture and level off as best as possible
  7. Sprinkle over the additional soft brown caster sugar
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 55 minutes, testing with a skewer to see if it’s done (the skewer will come out clean when it’s ready)
  9. leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes then carefull transfer to a wire rack (the cake is very moist and may split if you are not careful with it – when fully cold it is more rigid)
  10. Enjoy like any normal cake, but also works as a dessert with ice cream, custard or additional fruit


Orange olive oil cake with Limoncello icing and marmalade glaze

orange and olive oil cake - inksugarspice

I’ve updated this recipe June 2019 to also include instructions for a springform pan version (as well as the original for a ring pan) and added a new photo of the round springform version.

This is an understated but glorious cake. No showy, overly saccharine buttercream and no layers. However, it’s still built to impress and makes an enchanting dessert when served with a wash of cream or a scoop of gelato.

This recipe was written in collaboration with Filippo Berio and features on their website.


I’ve read that olive oil cakes are a speciality of Liguria, as that region produces very fine light olive oil, with a delicate buttery taste.

A word of warning – only use a light olive oil: don’t use your extra virgin oil.

Look for the pale coloured olive oils in the supermarket. Luckily these are usually the cheaper oils and will say something like ‘for general purpose cooking and frying’. I quite often am without extra virgin olive oil in my kitchen, but I make sure I never run out of the light olive oil. For this one, I did use Filippo Berrio Light and Mild – there are plenty of choices for light olive oil.

  • A variety of bowls, including two large (these may be your stand mixer bowls)
  • An electric hand mixer or a stand mixer (or if you’ve got strong forearms, a balloon whisk)
  • A savarin mould (or gugelhupf or Bundt) – OR – a 20cm springform cake tin
  • Flexible spatula
  • Pastry brush
  • A small saucepan
  • A wire cooling rack
  • A little – or mini – hand whisk
  • Plain flour, preferably Italian 00, but any plain (not strong bread though) – 200g
  • Ground almonds – 100g
  • Large eggs, – 3 (they will need to be separated into yolks and whites)
  • Caster sugar – 205g, plus a little extra
  • Light olive oil – 130ml
  • Orange zest – from two oranges
  • Orange juice – 360ml (this is about 4 large oranges. I suggest you use the juice from the two oranges that you have zested, then top up with store-bought smooth orange juice)
  • Icing sugar – 140g
  • Limoncello – about 1-and-a-bit tablespoons * (you can substitute 50:50 water and lemon juice if you require an alcohol-free cake)
  • Marmalade – about half a typical (280g) jar
  • Flaked almonds – a handful (about 30g)
  • A little melted butter (about 8g) and a spoonful of flour for preparing the tin
  • Salt – a large pinch
  • Baking powder – 3/4 teaspoon
  • For the RING version turn your oven on to 180ºC Fan / 200ºC conventional
  • For the FULL ROUND version turn your oven on to 160ºC Fan / 180ºC conventional
  1. †Melt the butter and using a pastry brush, brush the inside of your chosen cake tin – and if you are using a savarin/bundt mould make sure you brush the funnel too
  2. Tip in a spoonful of flour and rotate the mould, tapping it as you go to distribute the flour all over the buttered mould
  3. In one bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks
  4. In a second bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, until light and fluffy. Then, add in the zest, the olive oil and half of the orange juice and whisk in as well
  5. In another bowl or a jug, tip in the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder and briefly stir together
  6. Now gently use the whisk (no vigorous beating – just a gentle whisking motion) to combine a third of the flour mixture and the rest of the orange juice.
  7. Now add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until it is all combined
  8. Using a flexible spatula, fold a third of the egg whites into the mixture (the first third loosens the mixture and helps to ensure not all the air is knocked out of the rest of the egg whites)
  9. Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, folding in fully after each addition
  10. Once fully combined pour the mixture into the pan – it should fill it about 80% full (any extra left because your savarin mould is on the small side can be baked in cake cases or individual-sized silicon moulds)
  11. For the RING cake – bake in the bottom of the oven for about around 45 minutes
  12. For the ROUND cake – bake in the bottom of the oven for around 55 minutes
  13. Test it’s baked with a skewer – it should come out clean, but not bone dry as the olive oil in the cake keeps it moist
  14. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then invert onto a wire rack

Making the glaze, icing and decorating

  1. While the cake is cooling but is still slightly warm, make the marmalade glaze
  2. Put just under half a jar of marmalade in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water and bring to the boil
  3. Pour the marmalade all over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides
  4. Immediately sprinkle with the flaked almonds, so that they stick onto the marmalade
  5. You must leave the cake to completely cool before you add the water icing
  6. When the cake is finally cool, put the icing sugar in a bowl and add the Limoncello to it, but do this in stages. Humidity changes from one kitchen to another, from day to day in the same kitchen and also from one icing sugar packet to another. So, the amount of limoncello (or water and lemon juice if you require a non-alcoholic version) needed will vary also, especially as icing sugar takes so little liquid to dissolve
  7. The icing sugar needs to be just liquid, that it will take a second or two to start dripping off the tip of a spoon
  8. Hold a spoon full of the water icing about 4cm above the cake and ‘draw’ the icing across the cake in a zig zag motion with once hand, rotating the cake with the other so that you get the icing drizzled evenly all over the cake
  9. To decorate, either simply sprinkle over slivered almonds or decorate with chopped pistachios, slices of orange and edible flowers such as calendula and violas – both examples of the decoration are shown on this page
  10. Serve on its own or it’s delicious as a dessert cake with ice cream, fresh cream or creme fraiche
Ink Sugar Spice blog

Raspberry and browned butter Madeleines

MadeleinesApr2017SquareYou know why I love Madeleines so much? Shh, don’t tell anyone but they are soo quick and easy and people often think mistakenly they require some sort of high-level patisserie savoir-faire. Mais non.

My utmost favourite to make is a butterscotch Madeleine, but these are lovely too. Nice to have some fresh fruit in them as well so you can convince yourself that cake, at least in this instance, is contributing to your ‘cinq par jour’.

No apologies for the smattering of pidgeon-French, it just tickled me…

  • Makes about 18 Madeleines
  • You could use small bun tin, but really you need a shell shaped tin or it’s just a ‘little cake’. Normally I wouldn’t care about this sort of thing and I understand about not being able to afford additional bakeware, but this is one instance where it sort of does matter. Still would be nice as small cakes, but a Madeleine? Non.
  • Small saucepan
  • Madeleine tray(s)
  • Electric whisk/stand mixer/balloon whisk
  • Large bowl and a smaller bowl
  • Flexible spatula
  • Tablespoon measure
  • Pastry brush
  • Unsalted butter – 100g
  • Plain flour – 120g
  • Eggs – 2 medium
  • Soft brown sugar – 35g
  • Icing sugar – 85g
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Raspberries – a handful/70g
  • extra butter and flour to prepare the moulds
Préparation de la recette
  1. Gently heat the butter in a small sauce pan until it starts to froth and goes a nice toasty brown colour
  2. Leave the butter aside to cool a little
  3. Prepare the Madeleine moulds/tin – melt a little extra butter and paint this on the shell cavities. Then sprinkle over a little extra flour and tap the extra off
  4. Turn the oven on to 190 C fan / 200 conventional
  5. In a small bowl, smoosch up the raspberries a little with a fork – you don’t want to completely obliterate them, what you’re aiming for is a few whole, some in pieces and some crushed so the juice is oozing. This gives the Madeleines a variety of fruit textures and a few streaks of raspberry juice
  6. Whip up the eggs with the icing sugar in the large bowl for about 4 minutes until fluffed up and pale
  7. Whip in the soft brown sugar
  8. Fold in the plain flour, trying not to collapse the mix much (it will deflate a little but the only leavening agent in the recipe is eggs, so you’re relying on the lift you created from whipping eggs and sugar)
  9. Fold in the butter – it will seem a lot at first but it will fold in smoothly
  10. Fold in the smooshed raspberries
  11. Using the tablespoon measure, fill each shell cavity with the mix – it should be about 75% full
  12. When they’re all filled, place in the oven for 10 minutes
  13. Test doneness by pressing one Madeleine lightly with the tip of a finger – if it springs back then they are ready. If it leaves a little indentation, then pop in for a minute longer


Bon appetit!



Strawberry shortcake

Four layered strawberry shortcake made with polenta and ground almonds, with chantilly cream, jam, strawberries, chocolate spread and edible flowers

This is pretty much a Victoria sponge as the starting point, but has the addition of a little polenta flour and ground almonds. Don’t be fooled by the small amounts of polenta and ground almonds – even a little change with these makes a large difference to the crumb of the cake. I came up with this recipe about a year ago as I wanted a sponge that was a little denser so that layers could be cut more easily and to offset the extra cream or sweetness that I would then fill those extra layers with. The experiment works a treat for this purpose, but I wouldn’t use it for when I wanted a more traditional, lighter sponge texture.

  • This cooks at a lower temperature, for longer to keep the layers as flat as possible.
  • This is a small but high cake; it surprisingly feeds about 8 – 10 as the layers are tall and rich.
  • Scale up the amounts for a larger cake if you prefer (I’d suggest doubling for a 30cm cake tin).
  • Polenta is pretty easy to find in the UK – it will be in the world foods aisle at your local supermarket or an asian store. You may find it labelled as ‘Fine Corn Meal’ rather than polenta – I’ve got some of this from the Natco brand (green 1.5kg packet) which sells in all the main supermarkets in the UK.
Notes on edible flowers

Be careful what you pick – but some flowers you can rely on. Nasturtiums, lavender heads, marigold petals, violas, heartsease (native pansies) and rose petals plus other pansies with the green parts removed are all OK. [‘Heartsease’ is the traditional English name for pansies in the garden centre – these are all edible and can even be found amongst the herb section.] The Royal Horticultural Society has a nice page for more information. And if you’re still unsure – either replace with fresh berries or go check online as there are plenty of edible flower references out there.

  • 2 x 20cm round tins
  • Whisk/mixer and bowls
  • Cooling rack
  • Sharp bread knife
  • A piping bag and large round nozzle if you want to pipe the cream, or a palette knife to spread it
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 166g
  • Caster sugar – 166g
  • Eggs, medium – 3
  • Plain flour – 110g
  • Ground almonds – 20g
  • Polenta – 25g
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Lemon – finely grated zest of one small lemon (or half a large one)
Ingredients – for filling and decorating
  • Double cream – 300g
  • Icing sugar – 2 tablespoons
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Strawberry jam – a 350g/ 400g jar (you won’t need quite all of it)
  • Chocolate spread, such as Nutella
  • Strawberries – a large handful
  • Edible flowers (see notes above) – I specifically chose ‘hot’ coloured flowers in reds and yellows to compliment the slightly yellow sponge an make the whole thing very summery
  1. Prepare the two tins – grease and flour or line (you know your tins well and which method they need)
  2. Turn the oven on to 170C fan / 180C conventional
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together
  4. Add all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl
  5. Add one of the eggs to the butter/sugar mix and a couple of spoons full of the dry mix and incorporate together gently
  6. Repeat with the remaining two eggs and the rest of the dry mix
  7. Add in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest and ensure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated
  8. Evenly distribute the mix between the two tins, weighing the tins if need be
  9. Cook in the bottom of the oven for 30 mins
  10. A skewer or cocktail stick should come out dry
  11. Leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly
  12. Once cool, carefully slice each of the cake layers in two – you need four layers
  13. Inspect the two top halves and keep the nicest-looking one for the top of the cake
  14. Place a bottom half on a cake stand or plate and spread over a layer of jam
  15. Whip the double cream with the icing sugar and vanilla, to make Chantilly cream,and spoon into a piping bag, if using
  16. Pipe or spread the double cream over the jam
  17. Place the next layer of sponge on top and coat with the chocolate spread
  18. Slice up a few strawberries and arrange the slices on the chocolate spread
  19. Place the third layer of sponge onto the chocolate and strawberries and then cover that with a layer of strawberry jam and double cream, just like the bottom layer
  20. Finally, place the reserved ‘best’ top layer of sponge onto everything
  21. Decorate with the edible flowers and a few extra strawberries

Cherry Lamingtons


Umm, these little Australian cakes are delicious, but wow are they messy to make. If you’ve got little children I can imagine they’d have tons of fun with these – no wonder Lamington drives and bake offs are very popular in Australia and New Zealand.

I’ve made these twice before (a traditional recipe and a white chocolate ‘snowball’ version) and swore I’d never attempt them again as basically I got plastered in icing and dessicated coconut each time. Well, this month for the Daring Baker‘s challenge, Marcellina from the ‘Marcellina in Cucina‘ blog chose them for us all to try.

So, here’s my third ever batch of Lamingtons. I think maybe that now this won’t be my last as I have definitely improved at making them in a less messy way. I’ve also found that using a thicker ganache rather than a traditional chocolate glaze seems to coat the cakes better and gives the coconut something thicker to cling on to.

It’s a typical Lamington recipe except I’ve substituted some of the flour for dried coconut milk powder and added some finely diced glace cherries to the mix. The addition of the dried coconut milk enhances the dessicated coconut, and then I crowned each with a cherry as a finishing touch.

These are reputedly named after Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. It’s disputed whether they were a happy accident (cake dropped in chocolate, then covered in coconut to stop messy fingers) or whether Lord Lamington’s chef invented them or one of any number of rather bizarre other suggestions. There are many recipes for the sponge used and some are split and filled with either jam or cream but all are coated in a chocolate glaze or ganache and rolled in coconut.


It’s gonna get messy – give yourself some space and don’t worry about tidying up as you go along as it’s been almost impossible.


  • Bowls – including a large one for the coconut (I actually used a large plastic tub as it was flatter)
  • Cranked or plain palette knife (a smaller one is better)
  • Square baking tin -20 cm x 20 cm
  • Soft spatula
  • Balloon whisk, electric hand mixer or stand mixer
  • Saucepan
  • Cling film
  • Wire rack and a baking tray for it to sit on – line the baking tray with foil as this is to catch drips
  • Fork and spoon

Ingredients – sponge

  • Eggs, medium – 4
  • Caster sugar – 200g
  • Plain flour – 170g
  • Dried coconut milk powder – 30g (find this in the world food aisle in your supermarket)
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 110g
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Lemon juice – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Glace cherries, very finely diced – 40g

Ingredients – chocolate ganache

  • Milk chocolate – 300g
  • Double cream – 125ml

Additional ingredients

  • Dessicated coconut – 200g
  • Cherries for decoration

Method – sponge

  1. Line or grease and flour your baking tin and put the over on to 170C fan / 185C conventional
  2. Cream the eggs and sugar together in a bowl or with a stand mixer
  3. Put all the dry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, dried coconut milk and baking powder)
  4. Crack one egg into the mix and add 25% of the the fried ingredients and mix until combined
  5. Repeat with the other eggs one at a time and the dried ingredients until all eggs and all dried ingredients are combined. Remove the whisk/take the bowl off the stand mixer
  6. Add the lemon juice and the finely diced glace cherries and mix gently with a spatula – don’t whisk
  7. Pour into the prepared tin
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 mins until it’s golden on top and a skewer comes out cleanly
  9. Leave to cool in the tin and when cool it’s useful (although not totally essential) to pop it in the freezer (wrapped in cling film) for about 20 mins until slightly firmed

Method – choc ganache

  1. Break up the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl (it needs to be large as you will be holding the cakes over this later so you need the space)
  2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring to just under boiling – when it first bubbles
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and mix until all the chocolate is melted thoroughly
  4. Leave to cool completely

Method – assembly

  1. Retrieve the cake from the freezer (if you’ve done that) and cut into 16 squares
  2. Empty the dessicated coconut into either a large plastic container, such as a tupperware or click-lock box, or a large bowl
  3. Get the wire rack and baking tray ready
  4. Get the bowl of ganache ready
  5. Have a fork and spoon to hand for the dessicated coconut
  6. Pick up one of the cakes and hold it flat on your fingers (I’ve found this to be the easiest) and using the palette knife pick up and spread the ganache over the top and all four sides of the cake
  7. Set the cake onto the wire rack – this will catch any drips from the ganache
  8. Repeat for all the cakes
  9. Once covered in ganache, pick up a cake with the fork as a lifting device – the cakes will be extremely gooey now so if you try to pick them up with your fingers you’ll stick to them!
  10. Drop it gently in the dessicated coconut. Use the spoon to ‘pour’ over the dessicated coconut and flip the cake over in the coconut to cover all five sides that have the ganache on
  11. Flip the cake upright and using the fork put it gently back on the wire rack
  12. Repeat with all the cakes
  13. Position a cherry on each of the cakes
  14. Leave them to ‘settle’ and harden a little before you eat them as this allows them to be picked up more easily

Walnut cake with lemon buttercream

This is an amazingly bouncy walnut sponge topped with a lemon buttercream – this is a change to the traditional coffee and walnut combination but goes beautifully together.

Walnut and lemon buttercream cake



For this recipe I’ve used a mix of unsalted butter and baking margarine. I did some experimenting comparing all butter, all margarine and a mix of both on a creaming method sponge mix and I liked the combination for certain cakes. Previously I’d never baked using margarine; always butter only.

Butter has the best mouth feel and taste but can leave a sponge slightly greasy if the temperature isn’t perfect and it’s over-warmed before use, margarine gives a cake rise a lighter texture but the taste isn’t quite so good. Combining the two has given me a good almalgamation of the positives of both for this recipe – however, I didn’t use 50:50, I used a little more butter to margarine. Of course, for specialist patisserie sponges like joconde and the like, only butter can be used and if you’re after very natural ingredients, then butter wins hands down. I have only used Stork so I don’t know if other brands offer different qualities (better or worse).

If you only want to use either butter or margarine, just use 175g of the one ingredient.

A note about pans – this cake can be made in either two 20cm round pans or one 30 x 15-ish loaf pan. The cooking temps and times are slightly different for these but I’ll detail these in the method below


  • Two 20 cm round pans or one 30 x 13 cm (or whatever you have near this) loaf pan
  • Whisk or mixer
  • Bowls
  • Spatula

Ingredients – cake

  • Eggs, medium – 3
  • Caster sugar – 175g
  • Self-raising flour – 175g
  • Margarine – 75g
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 100g
  • Baking powder  – 1 1/2 tspns (7.5ml)
  • Double cream – 25 ml
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 tspn
  • Almond extract – 1/2 tspn
  • Walnuts – finely chopped – 60g

Ingredients – lemon buttercream

Please note – this is enough for the loaf cake:

  • Butter, softened – 70g
  • Icing sugar – 170g (thereabouts – add in batches and make to your own liking of density)
  • Cream or milk – about 10ml
  • Lemon juice – juice of one lemon or about 2 tblspns if you’re using it from a bottle
  • Extra walnuts for decoration – about 10 (choose the nicest looking ones)

For two cakes (provides a little extra to sandwich in the middle):

  • Butter, softened – 100g
  • Icing sugar – 250g (thereabouts – add in batches and make to your own liking of density)
  • Cream or milk – about 15ml
  • Lemon juice – juice of one lemon or about 2 tblspns if you’re using it from a bottle – this weirdly seems to provide the same taste, even though the other ingredients are greater. Just test it and add a bit more lemon juice if you prefer
  • Extra walnuts for decoration – about 10 (choose the nicest looking ones)

Method – cake

  1. Grease and line the tins – whatever you are using
  2. Preheat to oven to 170C for two round tins or 160C for the large single tin
  3. Cream the butter, margarine and sugar until pale and fluffy
  4. Add in all the other ingredients except the walnuts and mix briefly until all the flour is combined
  5. Mix in the chopped walnuts carefully with a spoon
  6. Dollop the mix into your tins and smooth the top
  7. Pop in the oven – for two tins bake for about 25-30 mins, for one tin bake for about 40-45 mins

One baked, leave to cool in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely before you ice it

Method – buttercream

  1. Mix all the ingredients together (can I suggest you lightly mix it all together with a spoon first before you start whisking, so you don’t get a cloud of icing sugar!)
  2. Whisk for about 4-5 mins so you get a really creamy mix


  1. When the cake is fully cooled, spread the icing on the cake and ‘lift’ the spatula/knife up all over the top to create a wispy finish
  2. Decorate with the remaining whole walnuts

Orange and chocolate friands

These are based on the Orange-chocolate cake recipe in the ‘La Mere De La Famille’ recipe book by Julien Merceron. The original recipe is for two large-ish loaf tin cakes. I have tweaked the recipe a little so that it can be baked perfectly as smaller individual cakes.

There are two absolutely essential changes: the cooking time and the oven temperature. Both length of time in the oven and the level of heat must be reduced to bake individual small cakes.


Makes about 10 friands/cupcakes

The changes made to produce small cakes are:

  • double cream replaces single cream
  • the recipe was halved except for the orange zest and juice – this remains the same, so effectively doubling the strength of the orange flavour in the small cakes
  • slightly more baking powder to ensure the rise
  • dropping the temperature from 200C to 185C
  • reducing the cooking time from 35 mins to 18 – 20 mins
  • I also tweaked the syrup to a preferred own version
  • The original recipe says to warm the cream, but after doing this the first time I made the cakes I found no difference to using it cold, so there’s no need to bother

I have noted the changes and the original amounts (halved) have been put in brackets in the ingredients list.


Friand moulds or other small cake moulds (making these into cupcake/muffin cases will be fine too)
Mixers – stand or hand electric or hand whisk
Cooling rack and baking tray (to catch the drips from the orange syrup)
Pastry brush
Measuring jug
Small saucepan

Ingredients – cakes

Oranges – zest of 2 (reserve the juice for the syrup – see below)
Caster sugar – 140g
Eggs, medium, whole – 2
Double cream – 50ml (the original recipe would equate to 50g of single cream)
Plain flour – 110g
Baking powder – 1 tspn/5g (the original recipe would equate to 3g)
Butter, unsalted, melted – 35g
Chocolate chips – 35g  for the cake mix and about 10g extra to sprinkle on top
Optional – pearl sugar – 10g

Extra butter for coating the moulds

Method – cakes

  1. Put the orange zest into the sugar and mix – let this infuse for a few minutes
  2. Whisk the eggs and zest-sugar mix together until it lightens in colour, looks creamy and has thickened a little
  3. Add in everything else bar the chocolate chips and stir in (not whisk)
  4. Once all the ingredients are blended thoroughly tip the 35g of chocolate chips in and mix.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 185C (190C if you don’t have a fan)
  6. Prepare the moulds (you can skip this step if using cupcake cases) by painting a little melted butter all round the insides of the moulds then dusting with flour
  7. Fill the moulds about 2/3 full
  8. Pop in the middle of the oven for 20 mins, although you can check them after about 18 mins – just press the top of one lightly with your finger and it will spring back if done. You’re aiming for a rich golden colour
  9. Fetch out of the oven and allow to cool in the moulds

Ingredients – orange syrup

Juice from the two oranges used above
A little water
Caster sugar – 50g

Method – orange syrup

  1. Squeeze out the juice of the two oranges into a measuring jug and top up with water to 100ml (the orange juice will be around 70ml from two oranges)
  2. Tip this into a small saucepan and add 50g of caster sugar
  3. Bring to a light boil and reduce to about half the original amount
  4. Leave to cool – it can be used at room temperature


  1. Tip out the cakes onto a wire rack stood over a baking tray (if you’re making cupcakes just stand the cakes in their cases inside a tray)
  2. Douse the cakes in almost all of the orange syrup, reserving a couple of tablespoons of it
  3. Sprinkle on the remaining chocolate chips and the pearl sugar, if using
  4. Pour over the rest of the syrup – this little extra bit of syrup will help ‘stick’ the chocolate chips and sugar pearls to the top of the cakes
  5. They are ready to eat once completely cool